On Monday, seven rockets targeted the Al-Balad airbase that houses American troops north of Baghdad, a security source said. This attack is similar to dozens of attacks that Iranian-led proxy militias have conducted on U.S. interests in Iraq.
Five of the rockets missed the base and hit a civilian area. Local news reports on social media showed a roof with a large hole blown in it. No casualties or damage to the base has been reported.
The seven rockets were fired from a village in the neighboring province of Diyala, east of the base.
No one has claimed responsibility for this attack yet.
Rocket attacks have frequently targeted the U.S. presence in Baghdad, including the U.S. Embassy, and convoys ferrying materials for the U.S.-led coalition. Such a convoy transporting supplies for the U.S. forces in Basra was hit by an IED attack recently.
After a lull in attacks against U.S. interests in Iraq during last fall, the attacks have once again been occurring with increased frequency as the Iranians, through their proxy militias, try to force the United States to withdraw from Iraq.
On March 3, an attack on Ain Al-Assad airbase, in Iraq’s western desert, resulted in the death of an American contractor.
The attack at Ain Al-Assad airbase came shortly after the U.S. bombed a border-crossing site between Iraq and Syria manned by Iranian proxy militias including the Kata’ib Hezbollah, the militia that has acknowledged carrying out most of the attacks against the U.S. All seven militia buildings at the site were destroyed. A second planned attack was called off at the last minute when women and children wandered into the target area.
President Joe Biden said that Iran should view the U.S. airstrikes in Syria as a warning that it can expect consequences for its support of militia groups that threaten U.S. interests or personnel.
“You can’t act with impunity. Be careful,” Biden said, hoping to send a message to Iran.
Meanwhile, in the UN, Iran has said that claims of its role in attacks on U.S. interests in Iraq are “completely baseless and lacking legal credibility.”
In a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Iran’s UN envoy Majid Takht-Ravanchi “decisively” rejected claims that Iranian-backed paramilitary forces were behind recent attacks against U.S. interests.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran has not had any involvement, directly or indirectly, in any armed attacks by any entities or individuals against the United States in Iraq,” the letter, which was posted by Iran’s state-run IRNA news on Monday, read.
However, a group of Iranian-led militias calling itself the Coordinating Committee for the Resistance Factions had meetings in Baghdad, Beirut, and Tehran according to Middle East Eye news, and pledged to “stop” their attacks on American and NATO interests if Iraqi Prime Minister Kadhimi orders the U.S. out of the country.
This latest attack shows that there will be no let-up on the Iranian push to force America to leave Iraq. And Iran is quite willing to use these militia forces as fodder to further its aims in the region.
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