Report: Pro-Iran Militias Conduct Another Rocket Attack on Iraqi Military Base

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, right, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, participate in a briefing at the White House in Washington, Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday morning he was “outraged” by reports of a rocket attack on the al-Balad airbase, located 50 miles north of Baghdad.

Four members of the Iraqi Air Force were reportedly injured in the attack, which was attributed to Iran-backed Shiite militia.

According to Iraqi media, the attack involved eight Russian-made Katyusha rockets hitting the airbase, causing explosions that injured four Iraqi personnel. Katyusha rockets have a much shorter range than the ballistic missiles Iran fired at two Iraqi bases last Wednesday, so they would most likely have been launched by Iran’s Shiite militia allies in Iraq. No formal claim of responsibility for the attack had been made as of Monday morning.

The al-Balad airbase “hosts American trainers, advisers and a company that provides maintenance services for F-16 aircraft,” according to the Associated Press

A spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq said no Americans were present at the base when the attack was launched. Iraqi security analyst Husham al-Hashimi told the Kurdish news service Rudaw there have not been any “foreign or American military personnel” at the base since January 4.

Hashimi added that Iraqi Shiite militia is reluctant to conduct strikes against bases where coalition troops are stationed because the American airstrikes that hit several bases used by the Kataib Hezbollah militia in late December taught them a “harsh lesson” about the United States’ willingness to respond to provocations.


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