U.S. diplomats and troops in Iraq and Syria have been targeted in three rocket and drone attacks in the past 24 hours, U.S. and Iraqi officials said Wednesday, including at least 14 rockets hitting an Iraqi air base hosting U.S. forces, injuring two members of the American service.
While there was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks – part of a wave aimed at U.S. troops or areas where they are based in Iraq and Syria – analysts believed they were part of a campaign by armed groups backed by the US. ‘Iran.
U.S. forces, which have 2,500 troops deployed in Iraq as part of an international anti-ISIL (ISIS) coalition, have been targeted nearly 50 times this year in the country, but recent days have seen an increase in frequency. of the attacks.
Iraqi armed groups aligned with Iran have vowed revenge after U.S. raids on the Iraqi-Syrian border killed four of their members last month.
Two people were slightly injured in the rocket attack on Ain al-Assad air base in western Iraq, said coalition spokesman U.S. Army Colonel Wayne Marotto. The roots land on the base and its perimeter. He said earlier that three people were injured.
Commenting after Thursday’s development, Wayne said any attack “undermines the authority of Iraqi institutions” and sovereignty.
Any attack on the GoI, KRI and Coalition undermines the authority of Iraqi institutions, the rule of law and Iraqi national sovereignty. These attacks endanger the lives of Iraqi civilians, and partner forces by the ISF, Peshmerga & Coalition.
– The Spokesman Col. Wayne Marotto (@OIRSpox) July 8, 2021
U.S. officials, speaking to Reuters news agency on condition of anonymity, said the two injured personnel were members of the U.S. service. One of the officials added.
Two gunmen were shot dead at the U.S. embassy in the Baghdad Green Zone in early Thursday, Iraqi security sources told Reuters.
One of the sources said that the embassy’s anti-racial system has diverted one of the racists – a security officer who has his office in the Green Zone. The second missile crashed near the perimeter of the area, security officials said.
The sirens have been blown up by the embassy in the area, which houses government buildings and foreign missions, sources said.
In Syria, U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have said no damage was done by a drone attack on the Al Omar oil field in an eastern area bordering Iraq where U.S. forces have been stationed. under fire from rockets but escaped wounded on 28 June
“Our front-line forces are against it [ISIL] and coalition forces in the Omar oil field area have been handling drone attacks, ”the Kurdish-led SDF said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor with sources in Syria, said pro-Iran groups had likely launched drones from a rural area outside the southwestern city of Al-Mayadeen. of the oil field.
It was the second attack these days, after the SDF reported “two missile-free grenades that landed on the west side of the al-Omar oil field” late Sunday, which caused no casualties.
Separately, the Pentagon said a drone had been shot down in eastern Syria and that no U.S. service members had been injured and there had been no damage.
Meanwhile, Iraqi army officials have said the pace of recent attacks against bases hosting U.S. forces with explosive-laden rockets and drones has been unprecedented.
Iraqi military sources said a rocket launcher attached to the back of a truck was used in Wednesday’s attack and was found on nearby agricultural lands on fire.
On Tuesday, a drone attacked Erbil airport in northern Iraq, destined for a U.S. base in the airport field, Kurdish security sources said.
Three people also landed in Ain al-Assad on Monday without causing any casualties.
Asked about the renewed violence, U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters, “These attacks reflect and are representative of the threat that Iran-backed militias present fundamentally to the United States. sovereignty of Iraq and the stability of Iraq. “
‘Go green’ to climb
The United States has been holding indirect talks with Iran to revive both nations in accordance with Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal, which has been abandoned by then-President Donald Trump. No date has been set for the next round of negotiations, which has been postponed to June 20.
Hamdi Malik, an associate at the Washington Institute and a specialist in Iraqi Shiite armed groups, told Reuters that the attacks were part of an escalation coordinated by Iranian-backed militias in Iraq.
The attempted strike in eastern Syria appeared to be the first example of operations carried out simultaneously in the two countries.
“It seems to me that they have the green light from Iran to scale, especially given that nuclear negotiations are not going well. But at the same time, they do not want to scale beyond a certain point – they are more vulnerable to attacks. U.S. aircraft first – and they don’t want to overly complicate the negotiations that Iran has with the West, ”he said. he said.
Last week, the United States told the United Nations Security Council that it had targeted Iran-backed groups in Syria and Iraq with airstrikes to deter them and Tehran from making or sustaining further attacks on personnel or and American structures.
Iran has refused to support attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria and has condemned U.S. airstrikes on groups backed by Iran.