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4 Jan, 2020 17:25

Iraqi air base housing US troops comes under rocket fire north of Baghdad

Iraqi air base housing US troops comes under rocket fire north of Baghdad

Iraq's Balad Air Base, which hosts a number of US forces and contractors, has been the subject of a rocket attack. At least three unguided projectiles have exploded inside the facility, reportedly causing no casualties.

The base, located some 60km (40 miles) to the north of Baghdad, came under attack late on Saturday, Reuters reported citing security sources. Two unguided rockets hit the premises of the compound, but caused no casualties among the personnel. It was not immediately clear whether they inflicted any material damage.

The incident hit the headlines shortly after two explosions hit the Green Zone – the heavily fortified quarter of the Iraqi capital that houses foreign missions and government buildings. One rocket reportedly hit in the vicinity of the US embassy, reportedly damaging a road.

Also on rt.com Rockets land close to US Embassy in Baghdad, no known casualties - military

Meanwhile, Iraqi Shia paramilitary group Kataib Hezbollah has warned local forces to steer clear of any US bases or compounds housing American troops. To stay safe, they must remain at least one kilometer away from such facilities, the group said, implying that further attacks are expected.

Kataib Hezbollah, which emerged during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, has been waging anti-US insurgency for years. Currently, however, it is part of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) – a government-sponsored umbrella organization that united and recognized various militant groups during the Washington-backed campaign against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorists.

The incidents followed the assassination of the Iranian Quds Force commander Major General Qassem Soleimani. He was killed in a US airstrike on the outskirts of Baghdad alongside several other high-ranking Iranian and Iraqi military officials.

The killing prompted a furious reaction both in Iran and Iraq. Tehran vowed retaliation for Soleimani’s death, which it described as an act of international terrorism. The elite Iranian IRGC force said that at least 35 “vital” US and Israeli targets in the region are within its reach for a guaranteed strike. Iraq, meanwhile, accused the US of violating its sovereignty.

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Washington, for its part, insisted that the assassination was “defensive” in its nature, accusing Soleimani of being behind the deaths of “hundreds” of US citizens and alleging he was planning new attacks on the nation’s troops across the region.

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