June 19, 2024
Two injured following rocket attacks on Iraq's airbase, hosts US troops

Two injured following rocket attacks on Iraq’s airbase, hosts US troops

Col. Wayne Marotto, the spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, tweeted that the airbase was attacked by 14 rockets which landed on the “base & perimeter” and that “Two personnel sustained minor injuries.”

A Pentagon spokesperson later confirmed that the service members injured were American.

“I can confirm two US service members had the minor injuries in today’s attack at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq,” Pentagon Spokesperson Commander Jessica McNulty said

Damage from the attack is still being assessed at the airbase, which is one of the largest and oldest military bases in the country.

Sharhabil al-Obaidi, the mayor of al-Baghdadi in Anbar province, told CNN that the coalition responded to the source of the launch and struck a vehicle from which the rockets were launched near the town of al-Baghdadi. Al-Obaidi said several rockets hit Iraqi army posts inside the airbase but could not provide further details.

Security officials in the town of al-Baghdadi told CNN that a house nearby the launcher was damaged in the coalition airstrike, but no casualties were reported.

The Iraqi military said in a statement that the rocket launcher also caused damage to several houses and a nearby mosque after several rockets on its board exploded.

Iraqi military spokesman Yahya Rasool described the incident and other recent attacks targeting diplomatic missions as “terrorist attacks” in a statement Wednesday.

Diplomatic missions, he said, are under the protection of the state and any attack against them are “a flagrant violation of all laws, and an attack on the prestige of the state and its international commitments.”

No group has claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s rocket attacks, but Iran-backed militias in Iraq vowed revenge following US airstrikes on the Iraqi-Syria border region last month.

On Wednesday afternoon State Department spokesperson Ned Price suggested that recent rocket attacks on bases in Iraq were carried out by Iran-backed militias but noted that he “wouldn’t want to prejudge investigations that are ongoing.”

“As we have said in the context of attacks that have taken place in recent months, they have been carried out by Iran-backed militias and President Biden in turn has responded, responded in different ways but of course, perhaps most visibly by authorizing the military strikes most recently, late last month but also, before that as well on Iran-backed militia infrastructure in Iraq and Syria,” he said at a briefing.

“I wouldn’t want to speak to the motivation of these attacks. I will say that what we recognize is that these attacks reflect and are representative of the threat that Iran-backed militias present fundamentally to Iraq’s sovereignty, and to Iraq’s stability,” he added.

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said at the time that “the targets were selected because these facilities are utilized by Iran-backed militias that are engaged in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) attacks against US personnel and facilities in Iraq. Specifically, the US strikes targeted operational and weapons storage facilities at two locations in Syria and one location in Iraq, both of which lie close to the border between those countries.”

“As demonstrated by this evening’s strikes, President Biden has been clear that he will act to protect US personnel. Given the ongoing series of attacks by Iran-backed groups targeting US interests in Iraq, the President directed further military action to disrupt and deter such attacks,” Kirby said in a news release.

At least four Iran-backed militia fighters in Iraq and Syria were killed in those airstrikes, Iraqi militia said in a statement.

This story has been updated with additional information Wednesday.

CNN’s Oren Liebermann, Barbara Starr and Hamdi Alkhshali, Jennifer Hansler and Christian Sierra contributed to this report.