No Coalition casualties in rocket attack on Iraq’s Qayyarah base

Just days after US Ambassador to Iraq Matthew Tueller voiced concerns about the Iraqi government’s ability to control the country’s deteriorating security situation, unidentified assailants fired a barrage of Katyusha rockets at Qayyarah air force base where US forces are based. The attack did not result in any casualties.

“At approximately 7:45 p.m. several rockets impacted the Iraqis’ Qayyarah base. No coalition troops were injured,” US Marine Corps Captain Marisa Roberts, a spokeswoman for the Combined Joint Task Force in Iraq, confirmed to Rudaw via email. “Coalition forces are in Iraq at the invitation of the Government of Iraq to defeat ISIS remnants; we will not be deterred by these attacks and maintain the right to defend ourselves.”

The attack consisted of 17 rockets, 7 of which exploded in the air, according to initial reports from Iraqi security and political officials.

The Associated Press reported that the rocket fire originated in the city of Mosul, which was liberated from ISIS in 2016 by a combined force of Iraqi, Kurdish, and US-led coalition forces. Qayyarah base is approximately 60 kilometres south of Mosul.

This is the latest in a series of sporadic attacks targeting bases that host coalition forces, including a thwarted missile attack intended to strike Ain al-Asad air base in February and multiple rocket and mortar attacks on Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone over the past few months. These more recent attacks, which seem to be escalating in frequency, come amidst a time of increasing turmoil and social unrest, as volatile protests throughout Baghdad and the southern provinces show no signs of abating, refugees from northern Syria continue to pour into the country, and the Turkish air force regularly bombs Kurdish areas of northern Iraq.

Speaking at the Middle East Research Institute in Erbil on Wednesday, Ambassador Tueller stated, “…increasingly, I do sense there are some activities going on that aren’t under full control of the government or anybody else.”

On October 30, two Katyusha rockets were fired into the walls of the Green Zone in Baghdad. One landed within 100 meters of the US embassy, and one Iraqi soldier manning a checkpoint was killed. Two previous attacks on the Green Zone – a mortar attack in September and a rocket attack in May – did not result in any casualties.

In February, Iraqi forces discovered and disabled three Grad missiles that had been set on a timer and aimed at Ain Al-Asad air base. The missiles were defused only 15 minutes before they were set to launch. Ain Al-Asad is the base that US president Donald Trump visited on December 26, 2018 during his unannounced trip to Iraq.

Many countries, including the United States, Canada, Turkey, and Russia have issued warnings advising their citizens against travel to Iraq or to take precautions when in the country in the face of increasing insecurity. All non-essential personnel at both the US embassy in Baghdad and the US consulate in Erbil were evacuated in May of this year, and the US consulate mission in Basra has been suspended since December 2018. Source

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