One civilian contractor with the coalition was killed and 5 others wounded. One U.S. service member was additionally wounded.
BAGHDAD, Iraq — Rockets struck exterior an airport close to the place U.S. forces are based mostly in northern Iraq late Monday, killing one U.S.-led coalition contractor and wounding at the least eight different folks, Iraqi safety and coalition officers mentioned, sparking fears of recent hostilities.
At the very least three rockets hit areas between the civilian Irbil worldwide airport within the semi-autonomous Kurdish-run area and the close by base internet hosting U.S. troops at 9:30 p.m. Nobody instantly claimed accountability.
One civilian contractor with the coalition was killed and 5 others wounded, coalition spokesman U.S. Military Col. Wayne Marotto mentioned. One U.S. service member was wounded, he mentioned. He didn’t reveal the nationality of the lifeless contractor and mentioned this was underneath investigation.
At the very least two civilians had been additionally wounded and the rockets broken vehicles and different property, safety officers mentioned, with out offering extra particulars. A press release from Kurdistan’s Inside Ministry mentioned “a number of folks” had been injured based mostly on a preliminary investigation. The rockets had been launched from an space south of Irbil close to the border with Kirkuk province and fell on some residential areas near the airport.
The officers spoke on situation of anonymity according to laws.
Iraqi President Barham Saleh condemned the assault, saying in a press release posted on-line that it marked a “harmful escalation.”
Kurdish authorities cautioned Irbil residents to avoid focused areas and stay of their properties.
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In a later assertion, a little-known Shiite militant group calling itself the Guardians of Blood Brigade claimed accountability for the assault. It claimed firing 24 rockets that prevented the airport’s defenses, particularly naming an computerized machine gun referred to as a C-RAM that protects American installations in Iraq.
“The American occupation won’t be secure from our strikes in any inch of the homeland, even in Kurdistan, the place we promise we are going to perform different qualitative operations,” the declare mentioned, in keeping with the SITE Intelligence Group.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken mentioned the U.S. was pledging its help for investigating the assault and holding accountable those that had been accountable.
“We specific our condolences to the family members of the civilian contractor killed on this assault, and to the harmless Iraqi folks and their households who’re struggling these ruthless acts of violence,” he mentioned in a press release.
Assaults focusing on Irbil airport are uncommon, with Monday’s rockets the primary to strike the world in 5 months.
On Sept. 30, when six rockets hit close to the airport, Kurdish authorities mentioned that they had been launched from a pickup truck within the close by city of Bartella in Ninevah province, which falls underneath federal authorities management. Kurdish authorities had blamed Shiite militia teams.
Hoshiyar Zebari, a politburo member of the Kurdistan Democratic Occasion, mentioned safety officers had been investigating the supply of the assault. “There will probably be penalties towards the culprits. This aggression won’t stand,” he tweeted.
Rocket assaults have incessantly goal the U.S. presence in Baghdad, together with the U.S. Embassy, in addition to convoys ferrying supplies for the U.S.-led coalition.
The frequency of assaults diminished late final yr forward of U.S. President Joe Biden’s inauguration, although now Iran is urgent America to return to Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal. The U.S. underneath the earlier Trump administration blamed Iran-backed teams for finishing up the assaults. Tensions soared after a Washington-directed drone strike that killed prime Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani and highly effective Iraqi militia chief Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis final yr.
Trump had mentioned the loss of life of a U.S. contractor can be a crimson line and provoke U.S. escalation in Iraq. The December 2019 killing of a U.S. civilian contractor in a rocket assault in Kirkuk sparked a tit-for-tat combat on Iraqi soil that introduced the nation to the brink of a proxy warfare.
U.S. forces have been considerably diminished in Iraq to 2,500 personnel and now not partake in fight missions with Iraqi forces in ongoing operations towards the Islamic State group.
Related Press writers Samya Kullab and Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report.