Rockets hit Iraq military base hosting US troops

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SAMARA (IRAQ): A volley of rockets slammed into an Iraqi airbase north of Baghdad where US forces have been based, wounding four local troops, news agency PTI reported quoting an Iraqi military statement on Sunday.

 

The statement said eight Katyusha-type rockets landed on Al-Balad airbase, wounding two Iraqi officers and two airmen.

Al-Balad is the main airbase for Iraq's F-16s, which it bought from the US to upgrade its air capacities.

The base had held a small US Air Force contingent as well as American contractors, but a majority had been evacuated following tensions between the US and Iran over the past two weeks, military sources told AFP.

"About 90 percent of the US advisers, and employees of Sallyport and Lockheed Martin who are specialised in aircraft maintenance, have withdrawn to Taji and Erbil after threats," one of the sources said.

"There are no more than 15 US soldiers and a single plane at al-Balad," the report quoting sources said.

The attack came just days after Iran fired ballistic missiles at two bases in Iraq that house US forces in the wake of the killing of an Iranian commander by the US. Pentagon claimed that the attack had not done any harm to US personnel.

Recent heightened tensions between the US and Iran were sparked last month when a rocket attack killed an American contractor at a base in Iraq. The US has blamed that attack and others on Iran-backed militias.

Military bases hosting US troops have been subject to volleys of rocket and mortar attacks in recent months that have mostly wounded Iraqi forces, but also killed one American contractor last month, an AP report said.

Rocket attacks against Baghdad's high-security Green Zone, where the US and other embassies are based alongside international troops, are still taking place.

Image Credit: Al Jazeera

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