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Rockets hit Iraqi military air base hosting US contractors | Middle East News




A person injured as several rockets hit Iraqi Balad air base, where a US defense company is headquartered.

At least four rockets hit an Iraqi air base on Saturday evening, the Iraqi military said in a statement, while other officials said one person was injured at the base where a US defense company maintains planes of fight.

The injured person worked for the American company, the Associated Press news agency reported, citing four officials who spoke on condition of anonymity. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack on Balad air base in Salah al-Din province.

Jamal Akab, the media spokesperson for the province, told local media that the missiles landed near the perimeter of the air base in an open area.

In January 2020, the base, located about 80 km north of the capital, Baghdad, was attacked by eight Katyusha rockets, injuring four members of the Iraqi Air Force, including two officers.

The US Defense Company Sallyport is headquartered at the air base and currently has 46 people engaged to provide support services to the Iraqi F-16 program.

The United States has previously evacuated some of its contractors from the base for security reasons.

It was the second rocket salute to strike a base housing US forces or contractors in less than a week. Armed groups which some Iraqi officials say are backed by Iran have claimed responsibility for similar incidents in the past.

Last week, a foreign civilian contractor was killed and nine others injured after a flurry of missile attacks on the military base inside Erbils airport in the Kurdish-controlled region of northern Syria. Iraq.

The attack was claimed by a little-known armed group called Awliya al-Dam or the Blood Guardians. Iraqi officials said the group has ties to the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), Iraqi paramilitaries created in 2014 from primarily Shiite militia groups to fight the ISIL group (ISIS).

Saturday’s attack comes after NATO said it would significantly increase its mission in Iraq from 500 to 4,000 to combat remnants of ISIS (ISIS), Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said this week. The increase comes as US-led coalition troops have gradually reduced their presence in Iraq over the past year.

The NATO training mission was launched in 2018 to help the conflict-ravaged country develop new military academies and schools for its armed forces. It was initially located in the capital, Baghdad, and in neighboring Jordan.

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