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Bases Housing U.S. Troops in Iraq, Syria Come Under Attack

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A security official inspects the wreckage of a drone at Baghdad airport, Iraq, Monday, Jan. 3, 2022. Two armed drones were shot down at the Baghdad airport on Monday, a U.S.-led coalition official said, an attack that coincides with the anniversary of the 2020 U.S. killing of a top Iranian general. (International Coalition via AP)
A Katyusha rocket struck an Iraqi military base hosting U.S. troops at Baghdad’s international airport Wednesday while in Syria, eight rounds of indirect fire hit a base with members of the U.S.-led coalition, the Iraqi and U.S. militaries said.
No damage or casualties were reported from the Iraq attack, the third in as many days. The attacks started on Monday, the anniversary of a U.S. airstrike that killed top Iranian general Qassim Soleimani in Baghdad two years ago.
The attack in eastern Syria hit a base run by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces with a small coalition advisory presence. It also caused no casualties but several rounds landed inside the base, causing minor damage, the coalition said in a statement.
Coalition forces, acting on intelligence, responded swiftly and fired six rounds of artillery towards the point of origin of the attack just outside the eastern town of Mayadeen, a stronghold of Iran-backed fighters, the statement said.
The statement said that “Iran-supported malign actors fired ... from within civilian infrastructure with no regard for civilian safety.”
It said that hours earlier, U.S.-led coalition forces had observed several launch sites of indirect fire rockets near the base known as Green Village. Coalition forces conducted several strikes to eliminate the threats, the statement said.
Maj. Gen. John W. Brennan, Jr., commander of the joint task force, said such attacks pose a serious threat to civilians because of their lack of discrimination.
“The Coalition reserves the right to defend itself and partner forces against any threat, and will continue to do everything within its power to protect those forces,” said Brennan.
Earlier Wednesday, the Iraqi military said a rocket launcher with one rocket was located in a residential district in western Baghdad, an area used in the past by Iran-backed militias to fire rockets at the airport.
On Monday, two armed drones were shot down as they headed toward a facility housing U.S. advisors at Baghdad airport. Two explosives-laden drones targeting an Iraqi military base housing U.S. troops in western Anbar province were destroyed on Tuesday.
The 2020 U.S. drone strike at Baghdad’s airport killed Soleimani, who was the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of Iran-backed militias in Iraq known as the Popular Mobilization Forces.
Pro-Iran Shiite factions in Iraq have vowed revenge for the killing and have conditioned the end of attacks against the U.S. presence in Iraq on the full exit of American troops from the country.
The U.S.-led coalition formally ended its combat mission supporting Iraqi forces in the ongoing fight against the Islamic State group last month. Some 2,500 troops will remain as the coalition shifts to an advisory mission to continue supporting Iraqi forces.
The top U.S. commander for the Middle East Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie warned in an interview with The Associated Press last month that he expects increasing attacks on U.S. and Iraqi personnel by Iranian-backed militias determined to get American forces out.
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