Rocket Attack Hits US Base in Iraq; Casualties Reported, Aircraft and Drone Destroyed

Rocket Attack Hits US Base in Iraq; Casualties Reported, Aircraft and Drone Destroyed

A rocket attack on a U.S. base in the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan killed one civilian contractor and injured one U.S. service member, as well as injuring five other contractors. A USAF Beechcraft Super King Air 350 and a USAF MQ-1C Gray Eagle military drone is said to have been destroyed during a rocker attack.

Four of the injured contractors were American, according to a U.S. defense official. The contractor who was killed was not an American citizen, according to multiple defense officials. At least one local civilian was killed in the attack, which also struck a nearby residential neighborhood, according to local media reports. 

It was not immediately clear who carried out the attack, which took place at roughly 10:00 p.m. local time, shaking the nearby Erbil airport. A group called Saraya Awliya al-Dam took immediate responsibility, claiming to have fired 24 rockets in the attack. The self-styled group is widely seen as a front for Iran-linked militia in Iraq, in particular Kataib Hezbollah, the group that killed multiple Americans in two attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq in 2019 and 2020.

Coalition spokesman Wayne Marotto said 14 “107mm rockets” were launched near Erbil Airport in northern Iraq and three directly hit the base. He said the contractor who was killed was not Iraqi, but could not give immediate details on the victim’s nationality.

The airport is where foreign troops are based as part of an international alliance fighting the armed group ISIL (ISIS). It was reportedly shut down and flights were halted for safety issues.

Since Iraq declared victory against ISIL in late 2017, the coalition has been reduced to less than 3,500 troops in total, 2,500 of them Americans. Most are concentrated at the military complex at the Erbil airport.

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