USA 'outraged' by deadly rocket attack on Irbil

Rocket attack in Erbil kills US military contractor

A civilian contractor was killed and a USA service member was injured along with five other contractors when rocket fire landed on coalition forces near Erbil International Airport in Iraq, said Col. Wayne Marotto, the spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve.

Three rockets fell on Monday near the worldwide airport of Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan, al-Sumaria broadcaster reported.

Rockets struck outside Irbil worldwide airport near where United States forces are based in northern Iraq late Monday, killing one US-led coalition contractor and wounding at least eight people, Iraqi security and coalition officials reported, sparking fears of new hostilities.

At least two civilians were also wounded and the rockets damaged cars and other property, security officials said, without providing more details.

A previously obscure pro-Iranian group said it launched the strike.

It was the most deadly attack to hit US -led forces for nearly a year in Iraq, where tensions have escalated between Iraqi and Kurdish allies of Coalition forces on one side and Iran-aligned militias on the other.

Western military and diplomatic sites have been targeted by dozens of rockets and roadside bomb attacks since 2019, but most of the violence has taken place in Iraq's capital, Baghdad.

Biden's administration is weighing a return to the Iran nuclear deal, which his predecessor Donald Trump abandoned in 2018, that aimed to curb Iran's nuclear programme.

The U.S. -Iran tension has often played out on Iraqi soil.

Tension between the United States and Iran across the Middle East have become more overt in the last few years, ending most recently in a targeted drone strike by US forces that killed Iranian military mastermind Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad.

The last deadly attack to target the coalition killed one British and two American personnel in March past year.

Former Iraqi prime minister and senior Kurdish official Hoshyar Zebari said "five Katyusha rockets" hit the city of Erbil and some diplomatic facilities and residential areas.

At around 9:30 pm (1830 GMT), an AFP reporter heard several loud explosions in the northwestern outskirts of Arbil, the capital of Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region.

United States troops occupy a military base adjacent to the civilian airport. One U.S. service member was wounded, he said.

The Guardians of Blood Brigades militia said it had targeted "the American occupation", the Washington Post reported. It provided no evidence for its claim.

Masrour Barzani, president of the Kurdish region of Iraq, said in a Tweet that he had spoken with Secretary of State Antony Blinken about cooperating to find those responsible for the attack.

Several civilians off base were also injured by rockets that fell near the base, Kurdistan Regional Government officials said separately.

Groups that some Iraqi officials say have links with Iran have claimed a series of rocket and roadside bomb attacks against coalition forces, contractors working for the coalition and USA installations - including the embassy in Baghdad - in recent months. Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi in a statement called for an investigation into the attack.



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