Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 November 2019

Iraq base housing US troops targeted with rockets

Iraqi officials say 17 Katyusha rockets hit an Iraqi air base but gave no word on casualties

US soldiers seen on on a joint base with Iraqi army south of Mosul in 2017. AP
US soldiers seen on on a joint base with Iraqi army south of Mosul in 2017. AP

A barrage of rockets targeted an Iraqi air base that houses American troops south of the city of Mosul on Friday, two security officials said.

There was no immediate word of casualties from the attack.

The rocket fire appears to have originated in Mosul and struck the Iraqi army base in Qayyara, about 60 kilometres south of Mosul, where a US-led coalition is helping Iraqi forces battle remnants of ISIS.

The Iraqi officials who spoke to The Associated Press did so on condition of anonymity under regulations.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility nor was it clear if any of the rockets struck the base.

Iraq announced victory over ISIS two years ago, but the extremist group is still active through sleeper cells and frequently mounts attacks on Iraqi security forces.

Some hard-line Iraqi militias with ties to Iran have recently threatened to carry out attacks against Americans in the country. The US maintains a force of about 5,000 troops in Iraq.

American forces withdrew from Iraq in 2011 but returned in 2014 at the invitation of the government to help battle ISIS after it seized vast areas in the north and west of the country, including Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul.

A US-led coalition provided crucial air support as Iraqi forces regrouped and drove the extremists out in a costly three-year campaign.

The attack on Friday came as large parts of Iraq, including the capital of Baghdad and Shiite-majority southern provinces, are engulfed in anti-government protests.

Rockets have been fired near the US Embassy in the heavily fortified Green Zone in the Iraqi capital on several occasions recently.

Mosul, which was largely destroyed during the war against ISIS, lies north of Baghdad and has not seen any anti-government protests.

Updated: November 10, 2019 10:25 AM

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