Rockets Hit Iraqi Base Holding US Troops

No casualties or damages reported as Pope prepares for visit
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 3, 2021 7:37 AM CST
Rockets Hit Iraqi Base Holding US Troops
This Dec. 29, 2019, aerial file photo taken from a helicopter shows Ain al-Asad air base in the western Anbar desert, Iraq.   (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser, File)

At least 10 rockets were fired Wednesday at an Iraqi military base hosting troops of the US-led coalition to defeat ISIS, including US troops, according to statements from the coalition and military, per ABC News. The rockets struck Ain al-Asad airbase in Anbar province at 7:20am local time, coalition spokesman Col. Wayne Marotto said in a tweet, noting Iraqi security forces are investigating. Major General Tahseen al-Khafaji of the Iraqi security forces said there were no casualties or damages at the base, per NBC News. The attack follows a US airstrike that targeted an Iranian-backed militia in eastern Syria. That attack came in response to a deadly Feb. 15 rocket attack on a US-led coalition base in Irbil, northern Iraq.

"It was unclear if Iran had encouraged or ordered the rocket attack," per NBC, which reports the latest attack "could stoke fears of a repeat of last year's tit-for-tat escalation, that culminated in the US assassination of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani." Dozens of US service members were injured as Iran targeted two airbases, including the Ain al-Asad airbase, in response. Pope Francis, who is due to make the first-ever papal visit to Iraq, asked for prayers that his weekend visit would go ahead "in the best way possible" during his general audience on Wednesday. A planned 2014 visit had to be canceled due to security concerns, per NBC. The pope plans to meet with grand ayatollah Ali al-Sistani during the trip. (More Iraq stories.)

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