A bulldozer clears rubble and debris at Ain al-Asad air base in Anbar, Iraq, Jan. 13, 2020. (AP)
May 6, 2021
On Tuesday two rockets landed at Ain al-Asad air base
in western Iraq
. On Monday three to six rockets fell near Balad air base in Iraq, according to various reports. The base houses US contractors and has been targeted numerous times in the past by pro-Iranian militias targeting Americans.
This appears to be the third attack in three days, representing an increase in pro-Iranian rocket attacks on US forces in Iraq.
The attackers frequently use 107-mm. rockets supplied by Iran, although they have also used drones in a new escalation. The attacks are designed to provide Iran leverage, to harass the US and to create plausible deniability for Iran.
The US line regarding these attacks is to claim that the base is an “Iraqi base” and note that it does not house US or coalition troops. This negates any need to hold anyone responsible. Pentagon press secretary John Kirby did acknowledge that “there is a private US company that does have contractors working there.” The US is “concerned about any use of violence by any group in Iraq.”
This statement makes it clear the US does not currently want to emphasize that this attack fits a long pattern of pro-Iranian militias, many tied to leading parties in Iraq, targeting the US.
On Sunday two rockets were fired at Iraq’s Baghdad International Airport, targeting a housing complex used by US-led coalition troops, according to local reports. At the time, that was considered the second attack in 10 days. An air-defense system known as C-RAM was used to defend against the attack.
According to the AP “almost 30 rocket or bomb attacks have targeted American interests in Iraq, including troops, since [US] President Joe Biden took office in January.”
There was another attack on the Baghdad airport on Thursday, April 29. That included three rockets, resulting in a wounded Iraqi soldier.
On April 18 five rockets targeted Balad air base, wounding two foreign contractors. They hit a canteen and dormitory used by the US company Sallyport, reports said.
The attacks are growing and coincide with Iranian-backed attacks by the Houthis in Yemen using drones against Saudi Arabia.
The attacks also go hand in hand with Iran trying to wring concessions from the US during diplomatic proceedings over the future of the Iran nuclear deal in Vienna.
The Jerusalem Post