BAGHDAD: A civilian contractor in Iraq was killed on Wednesday after no less than 10 rockets slammed right into a army base internet hosting US-led coalition troops, safety sources revealed.
The assault on the sprawling Ain al-Assad base in Iraq´s western desert comes after a number of weeks of escalating US-Iran tensions on Iraqi soil.
It additionally comes simply two days earlier than the first-ever papal go to to the nation by Pope Francis, who mentioned he would nonetheless make the go to in order to not “disappoint” the Iraqi folks.
Ain al-Assad hosts each Iraqi forces and US-led coalition troops serving to struggle the Islamic State group, in addition to the unmanned drones the coalition makes use of to surveil jihadist sleeper cells.
Coalition spokesman Colonel Wayne Marotto confirmed that 10 rockets hit the bottom at 7:20 am (0420 GMT) whereas Iraqi safety forces mentioned they’d discovered the platform from which 10 “Grad-type rockets” hit the Ain al-Assad base.
Western safety sources instructed AFP the rockets have been Iranian-made Arash fashions, that are 122mm artillery rockets and heavier than these seen in related assaults.
“One civilian contractor died of a heart attack during the attack,” a high-level safety supply instructed AFP, including that he couldn’t verify the contractor´s nationality.
The dying marks the third fatality in rocket assaults in current weeks after rockets focusing on US-led troops within the Kurdish regional capital of Arbil left two folks lifeless.
Days later, extra rockets hit a US army contracting firm working north of the capital and the US embassy in Baghdad, however solely accidents have been reported.
In response, the US carried out an airstrike on February 26 towards Kataeb Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed Iraqi paramilitary power stationed alongside the Iraqi-Syrian border.
Washington says it struck on the Syrian facet of the border however Kataeb claims one in all its fighters who was killed within the bombardment was defending “Iraqi territory”.
Analysts have pointed to each home and worldwide causes for the sudden rise in tensions.
Hardline Iraqi teams have an curiosity in ramping up the strain on Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi following his pledges to rein in rogue militias.
They might additionally carry a message from Tehran to Washington, which beneath US President Joe Biden is providing to revive the Iran nuclear deal deserted by his predecessor Donald Trump in 2018.
Iran is demanding the US raise sanctions instantly, whereas the US desires Iran to maneuver first by returning to earlier nuclear commitments.
Tensions between the 2 rivals peaked in January 2020, following a US drone strike on Baghdad airport that killed Iranian basic Qasem Soleimani and prime Iraqi paramilitary commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
In response, Iran launched ballistic missiles on Ain al-Assad and Arbil, wounding dozens.
Iraq ‘ready for us’
Over the following 10 months, dozens of rockets and roadside bombs focused Western safety, army and diplomatic websites throughout Iraq — a few of them lethal.
Iraqi and Western officers have blamed hardline pro-Iran factions, a few of which have established “front groups” to keep away from being straight accused of violence.
Final 12 months´s assaults got here to a near-complete halt in October following a truce with the hardliners, however they’ve resumed at a quickening tempo over the previous three weeks.
Regardless of the current escalation, Pope Francis is set to go forward on Friday with the first-ever papal go to to the nation.
“The day after tomorrow, God willing, I will go to Iraq for a three-day pilgrimage. For a long time I have wanted to meet these people who have suffered so much,” the 84-year-old Francis mentioned in his Wednesday tackle.
He added: “The Iraqi people are waiting for us, they were waiting for Saint John Paul II, who was forbidden to go. One cannot disappoint people for the second time. Let us pray that this journey will be successful.”
Whereas he’s not scheduled to go to western Iraq, Francis will spend time in Baghdad and Arbil, each hit by rocket assaults final month.
Iraq is concurrently gripped by a second wave of the coronavirus, which is seeing greater than 4,500 new circumstances a day within the nation of 40 million.
To stem the unfold and management the crowds throughout the Pope´s go to, Iraq is ready to increase its weekend lockdowns to incorporate the whole thing of the papal go to from March 5-8.