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Rockets target Ain al-Asad military base housing US forces in western Iraq

A barrage of rockets has reportedly landed close to an air base in Iraq’s western province of Anbar, where American military forces are stationed.

Sabereen News, a Telegram news channel associated with Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units – better known by the Arabic word Hashd al-Sha’abi – reported that at least four BM-21 Grad rockets were launched at Ain al-Asad Air base, located about 160 kilometers (100 miles) west of the capital Baghdad, on Saturday evening.

The Security Media Cell, affiliated with the Iraqi prime minister’s office, said two projectiles fell outside the base, without causing significant losses.

It added that security forces have opened an investigation to find out the circumstances of the incident.

A group calling itself “International Resistance” has claimed responsibility for the attack, which is the latest in a series of assaults that have targeted US occupation forces over the past few months.

Back on April 8, two combat drones hit targets inside the same Iraqi air base.

Citing a security source speaking on condition of anonymity, the Arabic-language al-Sumaria television network reported at the time that there were no casualties or damage.

The report added that counter-rocket, artillery, and mortar (C-RAM) systems managed to intercept the aircraft.

The attacks come amid growing anti-US sentiment, which has intensified since last year’s assassination of top Iranian anti-terror commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad.

General Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), and his Iraqi trenchmate Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy head of the Popular Mobilization Units, were targeted along with their companions on January 3, 2020 in a terror drone strike authorized by former US president Donald Trump near Baghdad International Airport.

Two days after the attack, Iraqi lawmakers approved a bill that requires the government to end the presence of all foreign military forces led by the US in the country.

On January 8, 2020, the IRGC targeted the US-run Ain al-Asad air base in Iraq’s western province of Anbar after launching a wave of attacks to retaliate the assassination of Lt. Gen. Soleimani.

According to the Pentagon, more than 100 American forces suffered “traumatic brain injuries” during the counterstrike on the base. The IRGC, however, says Washington uses the term to mask the number of the Americans who perished during the retaliation.

Turkish warplanes launch new air raids on Iraqi Kurdistan

Meanwhile, Turkish military aircraft have launched airstrikes on purported militant positions in Iraq’s northern semi-autonomous Kurdistan region.

Sabereen News reported that Turkish fighter jets and helicopter gunships heavily bombed Amadiya area in the Duhok district of the region early on Sunday.

Iraq has slammed Turkish military operations on its soil as unlawful.

Last week, Sahaf told the Iraqi News Agency that there was a pre-2003 agreement between Ankara and Baghdad that temporarily permitted Turkish military forces, under certain circumstances, to cross five kilometers over the border in pursuit of PKK militants for a limited number of days in coordination with the Iraqi government.

However, in 2009, the Iraqi parliament canceled all agreements permitting Turkish troop to enter the country, Sahaf noted. 

Last month, Turkey announced its latest cross-border incursion into Iraq, codenamed Operation Claw-Lock. The air-and-ground military attacks target suspected PKK positions in the Zab, Basiyan, Avasheen, and Korajiwar districts in the Kurdistan Region. 

The Iraqi government summoned the Turkish ambassador, Ali Riza Guney, and handed him a “strongly worded” protest note over the offensive, and called the operation a blatant violation of its sovereignty. 

On the other hand, Ankara summoned the Iraqi charge d’affaires and informed him those military operations will continue if Baghdad doesn’t take action against PKK members. 

Calls have been growing for Baghdad to take the matter of Turkey’s repeated attacks to the United Nations Security Council and the Arab League.

Militants of the PKK — designated as a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and European Union — regularly clash with Turkish forces in the Kurdish-dominated southeast of Turkey attached to northern Iraq.

A shaky ceasefire between the PKK and the Turkish government collapsed in July 2015. Attacks on Turkish security forces have soared ever since.

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