At least 10 rockets have been launched towards a military base in western Iraq that hosts the United States

Davies

An aerial shot of the Al-Assad airbase.

At least 10 rockets have been launched towards a military base in western Iraq that hosts the United States, coalition and Iraqi forces, according to US officials.

Key points:

  • The attack comes two days before Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Iraq
  • US troops in Iraq decreased their presence in the country under the Trump administration
  • The forces withdrew from several bases to consolidate in Ain al-Asad and Baghdad

It’s not immediately known if there were any casualties.

The rockets struck Ain al-Asad airbase in Anbar province at 7:20 am local time on Wednesday, US military spokesperson Colonel Wayne Marotto said, adding that investigations were continuing.

The Iraqi military released a statement saying the attack did not cause significant losses and that security forces had found the launch pad used for the missiles.

It was the first attack since the US struck Iran-aligned militia targets along the Iraq-Syria border last week.

The US strike along the border had been in response to a spate of rocket attacks that targeted the American presence, including one that killed a coalition contractor from the Philippines outside the Irbil airport.

The Pentagon had said the strike was a “proportionate military response” taken after consulting coalition partners.

It stoked fears of a possible repeat of a series of tit-for-tat attacks that escalated last year, culminating in the US-directed strike that killed Iranian General Qassim Soleimani outside the Baghdad airport.

Wednesday’s attack comes two days before Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Iraq, despite deteriorating security in some parts of the country.

The much-anticipated trip will include the capital city of Baghdad, southern Iraq and the northern city of Irbil.

US troops in Iraq significantly decreased their presence in the country last year under the Trump administration.

The forces withdrew from several Iraqi based across the country to consolidate chiefly in Ain al-Asad and Baghdad.

Frequent rocket attacks targeting the heavily fortified Green Zone, which houses the US Embassy, during President Donald Trump’s time in the office frustrated the administration, leading to threats of embassy closure and escalatory strikes.

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