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Three Katyusha rockets land near Baghdad International Airport

Rockets landed close to Baghdad International Airport early on Wednesday, Iraq’s official security force media source has announced, breaking an over month-long pause in apparent attacks on sites housing US military and civilian personnel.

Three Katyusha rockets landed near the airport located east of the Iraqi capital, the Iraqi Security Media Cell said in a statement on Wednesday.

“No casualties from the attack were reported,” the statement added.

The airport hosts an American troop base, as well as the Baghdad Diplomatic Support Center – a branch of the US embassy – and has been subject to repeated rocket fire in recent years.

Following months of heightened tensions between the US and Iraq’s influential neighbour Iran, rocket attacks on US infrastructure and personnel in Iraq have become increasingly frequent. Most have targeted Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone, home to government ministries, the federal parliament, and foreign diplomatic missions including the sprawling American embassy compound. US officials have blamed the strikes on Iran-backed Iraqi militias.

However, rocket attacks on US targets have seen a lull amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with none recorded in over a month. The last strike, in which three Katyusha rockets landed near a US oil company compound housing foreign workers in al-Barjasiya, southern Iraq, was reported on April 6.

The continuing presence of some 5,200 US troops in Iraq after Islamic State was declared defeated in December 2017 has persistently been challenged by the country’s Shiite political parties. Contest spiked after a drone strike on the Baghdad airport killed high-profile Iranian General Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi militia chief Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, leading Iraqi parliament’s Shiite blocs to pass a resolution demanding the expulsion of US forces from the country. Source