A barrage of rockets have been fired on Wednesday on the Ain al-Asad air base in Iraq’s western Anbar Province — one of many final remaining Iraqi bases the place U.S. forces are stationed.
An Iraqi safety assertion stated that 10 missiles had hit the sprawling base, inflicting no casualties or main injury. However the Sabareen information outlet, which is affiliated with Iran-backed militias, stated three U.S. troopers had been killed within the assault.
Requested by e mail to verify the deaths, a coalition spokesman, Col. Wayne Marotto, replied that “the incident remains to be underneath investigation.”
Colonel Marotto stated preliminary reviews had confirmed that 10 missiles have been launched on the base, however he gave no different info.
The assault got here just below every week after the USA attacked Iran-backed militia targets on the Syria-Iraq border. These airstrikes, ordered by the Biden administration, hit a set of buildings on the Syrian facet of a border crossing.
The Iran-backed militia Kataib Hezbollah stated one in all its fighters had been killed in these airstrikes. It recognized him as a member of Common Mobilization forces which can be formally a part of Iraqi safety forces serving to forestall infiltration by the Islamic State.
The assault on the bottom on Wednesday got here simply days earlier than a go to by Pope Francis to Iraq starting on Friday — the primary ever papal go to to the war-ravaged nation.
Iraqi safety forces are on heightened alert, with a Baghdad going into full lockdown on Friday. Safety forces have been deployed in giant numbers to all the cities Francis plans to go to on his three-day journey.
The attackers who focused the bottom on Wednesday used BM-21 “Grad” missiles, fired from about 5 miles from the bottom, officers stated.
A neighborhood paramilitary chief close to the bottom stated he had heard the impression of the rockets after which went to analyze. The chief, Sheikh Qutri Kahlan al-Obeidi, stated he had discovered “a burned automobile — a Mitsubishi pickup,” rigged with missile launchers, that appeared to have been used within the assault.
No group took accountability, however the Biden administration will likely be underneath stress to reply if U.S. troopers have been killed, even because the pope’s go to might complicate any speedy army escalation.
The final main assault on the bottom was a bit of over a yr in the past, when dozens of U.S. troopers and help personnel have been injured in a missile assault. That assault was in retaliation for the U.S. drone killing of Iran’s high safety and intelligence commander, Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, who led the highly effective Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.
Falih Hassan contributed reporting.