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Rocket attack in Erbil kills one, injures US trooper among others

At least three rockets have landed in the city of Erbil in the Iraqi Kurdistan, killing a civilian contractor and wounding several others including an American service member, according to a US-led coalition spokesman.

Col. Wayne Marotto, a spokesman for the US-led coalition in Iraq, said “there was one civilian contractor killed, five civilian contractors injured and one US service member injured” in the Monday night “indirect fire”.

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.

The airport was reportedly shut down and flights were halted for safety issues.

A newly-established militant group which calls itself “Saraya Awliya al-Dam” has claimed responsibility for the rocket attack.

In a statement published by Sabereen News, a Telegram channel close to the Resistance Front, the group has said it carried out the “successful operation” at 9:15 pm against American occupiers in the northern parts of Iraq.

The group claimed that it fired 24 rockets from an area 7 kilometres away from the US-occupied al-Tahrir military base, all of which hit their targets as the coalition air defenses failed to intercept the rockets.

The Telegram channel also quoted an informed source as saying that the rocket attacks have severely damaged a Super King Air 350 aircraft belonging to the CIA and destroyed an MQ-1C drone.

Local news outlet Rudaw quoted a statement by the Kurdistan Regional Government’s interior ministry as saying that security forces have launched an investigation, calling on people to stay home.

‘Dangerous escalation’

In reaction to the attack, Iraqi President Barham Salih said the “targeting of Erbil, which inflicted casualties, represents a dangerous escalation and a criminal terrorist act targeting the national efforts to protect the security of the country and the safety of citizens.”

“We have no choice but to firmly strengthen our efforts to root out the forces of terror and the attempts to plunge the country into chaos,” Salih added in a tweet.

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.

The Monday attack was the deadliest one to hit US-led forces for almost a year in Iraq, where tensions have escalated between US forces, their Iraqi and Kurdish allies on one side and the resistance groups fighting the US occupiers on the other.

Anti-American sentiments have been running high in Iraq since US terrorists assassinated Iran’s Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, and the deputy head of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, in Baghdad on January 3, 2020.

Two days after the cowardly act of terror, Iraqi lawmakers unanimously passed a bill mandating the withdrawal of all foreign troops.

Amid the growing resentment, convoys of the US-led coalition, purportedly fighting the Daesh Takfiri terrorists, in Iraq has been a frequent target of blasts.

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