US Ain al-Asad base targeted with Katyusha rockets

Cornelia Mascio
Marzo 3, 2021

This aerial photo taken from a helicopter shows Ain al-Asad air base in the western Anbar desert.

Ain Al Asad Airbase, which is located in Iraq's Al Anbar province and hosts Iraqi and USA troops, was subjected to a massive rocket attack on Wednesday, Iraq's state-run news agency INA reported, citing a security source.

It's not immediately known if there were any casualties.

U.S. Army Colonel Wayne Marotto, spokesman for the U.S. -led coalition, said on Twitter that the rockets targeted the base at 7:30 a.m. Iraq time on Wednesday.

Ain Al Asad was one of the two bases hit by an Iranian ballistic missile strike on 8 January 2020 in response to the killing of Major General Qasem Soleimani by a United States drone strike.

It stoked fears of a possible repeat of a series of tit-for-tat attacks that escalated previous year, culminating in the US-directed strike that killed Iranian General Qassim Soleimani outside the Baghdad airport. "Coalition forces are in Iraq to fight Daesh at the invitation of the Iraqi government", he tweeted, using the Arabic acronym for IS.

Denmark, which like the USA and Britain also has troops at the base, said coalition forces at Ain al-Asad were helping to bring stability and security to the country. The attack early Wednesday is the first since, and Marotto said Iraqi security forces were investigating it.

The U.S. strikes were in response to rocket fire that targeted American presence in the region.

Wednesday's attack comes two days before Pope Francis' is scheduled to visit Iraq in a much-anticipated trip that will include Baghdad, southern Iraq and in the northern city of Irbil.

AFP quoted security sources as saying in connection with today's attack that a contractor had been killed in a rocket attack on Ain al-Asad.

US troops in Iraq significantly decreased their presence in the country a year ago under the Trump administration.

Frequent rocket attacks targeting the heavily fortified Green Zone, which houses the U.S. Embassy, during President Donald Trump's time in office frustrated the administration, leading to threats of embassy closure and escalatory strikes.

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