One contractor dead, six others injured in Iraq rocket attack

Daniel Fowler
February 16, 2021

Several other rockets landed in residential areas of the city, the capital of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, including one close to the Chinese Consulate.

"Egypt expresses its honest condolences to the government and the brotherly people of the Republic of Iraq, and the families of the victims in the repugnant terrorist attack, wishing a speedy recovery to the injured", the statement said.

A rocket attack targeting an airbase in Iraq's Kurdistan region late on Monday killed a foreign civilian contractor and wounded five others and a USA soldier, the US -led coalition said.

Egypt also voiced support for Iraqi measures to protect the country's security and maintain stability.

The latest attack came amid rising tensions in north Iraq, where neighbouring Turkey has been waging a fierce land and air assault against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) since June 2020.

An Iranian regime-aligned Shia militia group calling itself Saraya Awliya al-Dam ('The Avengers of the Blood Brigades') claimed responsibility for the attack on the US -led base, saying it targeted the "American occupation" in Iraq.

Another nine people were wounded, including eight civilian contractors and one USA soldier, he said.

Coalition forces based close to the Baghdad airport have been a frequent target for rocket attacks, which the US has blamed Iran-backed Shiite militia groups. Tensions soared after a Washington-directed drone strike that killed top Iranian Gen. Qassim Soleimani and powerful Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis past year.

USA troops occupy a military base adjacent to the civilian airport.

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U.S. 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.

The number of American troops in Iraq has been reduced, but there are still about 2,500 service members here.

It's the first time in 2 months that United States installations have been targeted in Iraq. It was not immediately clear where the fire was located, but one area resident posted that it was on the edge of the airport.

Masrour Barzani, president of the Kurdish region of Iraq, said in a Tweet that he had spoken with Secretary of State Antony Blinken about cooperating to find those responsible for the attack.

The coalition did not reveal the nationality of the civilian contractor who was killed.

The group Saraya Awliya al-Dam, whose name means "Guardians of Blood Brigades", claimed responsibility in a statement shared online.

Under former US President Donald Trump, Washington had vowed that the killing of an American national in such a rocket attack would prompt a mass bombing campaign in Iraq, although Iraqi officials are unsure if the Biden administration would stick to the policy.

The United Nations warned Tuesday that Iraq could spin out of control after a rocket attack on the Kurdish regional capital Arbil killed a foreign contractor for the USA military and wounded several other people.

Iraqi leaders have traveled to Teheran to try to persuade Iran to call off attacks, saying conflict between Washington and Teheran left Iraq dangerously in the middle.

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