A U.S. base in northern Iraq was subjected to an intense rocket attack late Monday. One foreign contractor was killed and at least eight people were wounded, including American and Iraqi security personnel and an American servicemember. This is the first attack on a U.S. base in months.
U.S.-led coalition spokesman, Col. Wayne Marotto, said in a statement posted on social media that the contractor killed was a foreigner but didn’t specify his nationality as the investigation is continuing.
“CJTF-OIR confirms approx. 14 107 mm rockets launched with 3 impacting within EAB, Feb 15 at 2130 hours (Iraqi time). One civilian contractor was killed (Not U.S.), and 9 injured (8 CIV contractors/ 1 US MIL) – 4 US/ 1 US MIL concussion protocol,” Marotto posted on Twitter.
The rockets were launched late on Monday from an area south of Erbil near the border with Kirkuk province. At least three rockets hit the area of the base near the airport.
A post on social media allegedly showed two rockets Iranian-made 107mm rockets that didn’t detonate.
The attack on Erbil was claimed by a little-known Shia group calling itself Awliyaa al-Dam, or Guardians of Blood.
There have been several new groups popping up in Iraq. American and Iraqi security officials believe that they are just front groups for prominent pro-Iran factions including Kataib Hezbollah and Asaib Ahl al-Haq.
According to a post from the SITE Intelligence Group, an NGO that tracks and analyzes online activities of extremist and designated terrorist groups, Awliyaa al-Dam, the terrorist group that perpetrated the attack, said, “The American occupation will not be safe from our strikes in any inch of the homeland, even in Kurdistan, where we promise we will carry out other qualitative operations.”
This latest attack on the U.S. and its Arab allies comes during an escalation of violence. The new Biden administration is hoping to restart talks on the nuclear deal with Iran but Tehran and its proxies are intent on bringing pressure on Washington.
Although most of these rocket attacks result in no casualties a rocket attack by an Iranian proxy militia at a coalition base on March 12, 2020, had killed one British and two Americans.
U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said in a statement that the U.S. was “outraged” by this latest attack. He also pledged “our support for all efforts to investigate and hold accountable those responsible,” to the Kurdish Regional Government.
Kurdish Prime Minister Masrour Barzani posted a statement on Twitter saying, “I condemn in the strongest terms tonight’s rocket attacks on Erbil. I urge all Kurdistanis to remain calm. I’ve instructed security services to start a full investigation and spoke with Prime Minister al-Kadhimi on ways to cooperate and identify the outlaws behind this terror attack.”
A video from social media shows a rocket hitting a civilian area of Erbil.
Last night, a total of 14 rocket rounds fired at US base in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan region.
1 civilian contractor killed, 5 civilian contractors injured & 1 US service member injured as a result of the attack. #Erbil #Kurdistan #اربيل أمريكا pic.twitter.com/IpbOGVoOBH
— ILKHA (@IlkhaAgency) February 16, 2021