Base housing US troops in Iraq comes under rocket attack

Base housing US troops in Iraq comes under rocket attack
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A base housing U.S. troops in Iraq was hit with more than a dozen rockets on Wednesday, causing two minor injuries.

The al-Assad Air Base in western Iraq was hit by 14 rockets at approximately 12:30 p.m. local time, Col. Wayne Marotto, the spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition Operation Inherent Resolve, confirmed on Twitter.

Marotto said the rockets landed on the base and its perimeter, and force defensive measures were activated. He later tweeted that all of the personnel at the base were accounted for following the attack, though “two personnel sustained minor injuries” and damage is still to be assessed.

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A separate statement tweeted by Security Media Cell, affiliated with Iraq's government, said the attackers used a rocket launcher hidden in a truck filled with bags of flour parked nearby in the village of Baghdadi. While 14 rockets were fired toward al-Assad, some exploded on the truck, damaging local homes and a mosque.

The Iraqi government called the rocket strike a “terrorist attack.”

Such attacks — which have ramped up since late last month — follow Pentagon-launched airstrikes on Iran-backed militia groups on the Iraq-Syria border on June 27, which killed four Iraqi fighters.

The latest attack on U.S. forces in Iraq comes just a day after two similar rocket attacks in the country. Three rockets were launched at al-Assad, landing on the base perimeter and causing no injuries. The State Department said defensive systems at the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad eliminated an airborne threat.

A militant group calling itself “The brigades to avenge al-Muhandis” took responsibility for the attack on al-Assad, saying it will force U.S. troops “to leave our lands defeated.”

The group takes its name from Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, killed last year alongside Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani in a Trump administration-ordered drone strike in Baghdad.

Wednesday's attack came the same day that U.S.-backed Syrian forces and American troops prevented a drone strike on a base in eastern Syria.

U.S.-backed and Kurdish-led forces said they stopped a drone attack on the al-Omar oil field in the eastern province of Deir el-Zour, ABC News reported.

Syrian Kurdish-led forces said al-Omar was also attacked over the weekend, but Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Tuesday that it was “disinformation of some sort,” and there was no attack.