Three rockets target military complex near Baghdad airport

No immediate claim of responsibility for firing rockets that landed in the perimeter of Baghdad’s airport.

A katyusha rocket launcher found by the Iraqi Army, is seen in a rural area in western Baghdad, in this picture provided by Iraqi Media Security Cell
Iraqi security forces later discovered the launching pad for the rockets in the al-Barkiya area, west of Baghdad [Reuters]

Three Katyusha-type rockets have struck a military complex near Baghdad’s international airport that is used by US troops and diplomats, Iraq’s military said without reporting casualties.

Security officials said it was not immediately clear whether a military base hosting US troops next to the airport was the target of Wednesday’s attack.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack which came hours ahead of a Parliament session that will vote on the proposed government of the latest prime minister-designate, Mustafa al-Kadhimi. 

Iraqi security forces later discovered the launching pad for the rockets in the al-Barkiya area, west of the capital Baghdad. 

An Iraqi security official, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, said one of the rockets struck close to Iraqi forces at the military airport, another near Camp Cropper, once a US detention facility, and the last near to where US forces are stationed at the base. 

Another security source told AFP news agency that the target was “the headquarters of the counter-terrorism service, where American troops are based”. 

Baghdad’s airport has been closed since mid-March as part of a nationwide lockdown to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

US-Iran tensions 

The United States blames a series of rocket attacks near or on bases hosting its troops this year on Iran-aligned groups, although those groups have not claimed them. 

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Tension between Washington and Tehran has ramped up over the last year, culminating in the US killing of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani and Iraq’s paramilitary chief Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in a drone strike at Baghdad airport in January.

Iran-backed paramilitary groups vowed to avenge the killings and rocket attacks on bases hosting US troops have persisted.

Rocket attacks have also hit near the US embassy in Baghdad, with at least one direct hit on the compound. 

Iraq faces the COVID-19 pandemic, a looming economic crisis and increased security threats, including the US-Iran standoff and a resurging Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS, also known as ISIL), without a sitting government.

The country has been without a prime minister since Adel Abdul Mahdi, who remains in a caretaker capacity, resigned amid anti-government protests in November.

Source: News Agencies