Iraq rocket attack hits U.S. forces, killing contractor

Rocket attack in Erbil kills US military contractor

A civilian contractor was killed and a US service member was injured when rockets fell on the airfield where USA and coalition forces are based in the capital of Iraq's northern Kurdistan region Monday, the military said.

The barrage of rockets hit in and near a military air base occupied by the US -led coalition at Erbil International Airport.

"We express our condolences to the loved ones of the civilian contractor killed in this attack, and to the innocent Iraqi people and their families who are suffering these ruthless acts of violence", he said in a statement.

At least two civilians were also wounded and material damage was caused to cars and other property, security officials said, without providing more details.

"The American occupation will not be safe from our strikes in any inch of the homeland, even in Kurdistan, where we promise we will carry out other qualitative operations", the claim said, according to the SITE Intelligence Group.

These groups are vehemently opposed to the USA -led coalition, which has been based in Iraq since 2014 to help local forces fight back the Islamic State group.

Most of the incidents have caused no casualties, but have kept up pressure on USA troops and US allies in the region in the early days of Joe Biden's presidency.

USA allies such as France have said any new negotiations should be strict and should include Saudi Arabia, Iran's main regional foe.

The U.S. -Iran tension has often played out on Iraqi soil.

In March 2020, another rocket attack killed two Americans - a soldier and a contractor - and a British soldier.

Kurdish security sources said at least three rockets landed near Erbil International Airport in the autonomous region late at night.

At around 9:30 pm (1830 GMT), an AFP reporter heard several loud explosions in the northwestern outskirts of Arbil, the capital of Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region.

The group claimed that it fired 24 rockets from an area 7 kilometers away from the US-occupied al-Tahrir military base, all of which hit their targets as the coalition air defenses failed to intercept the rockets. A third USA official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the US service member's injury was a concussion.

A newly-established militant group that calls itself "Saraya Awliya al-Dam" has claimed responsibility for the rocket attack, Press TV reported. It provided no evidence for its claim.

Following a deadly rocket attack at a base near Kirkuk that killed a USA civilian contractor in late 2019, the Pentagon launched airstrikes on militia sites, leading to a series of escalations with the militias and Iran in early 2020.

"I have reached out to Kurdistan Regional Government Prime Minister Masrour Barzani to discuss the incident and to pledge our support for all efforts to investigate and hold accountable those responsible".

USA forces have been significantly reduced in Iraq to 2,500 personnel and no longer partake in combat missions with Iraqi forces in ongoing operations against the Islamic State group.



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