Multiple rockets struck an airbase in Iraq hosting U.S. troops on Wednesday, according to a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition forces in the country.
Col. Wayne Marotto said 10 rockets struck Ain al-Asad airbase in Anbar province at 7:20 a.m. and Iraqi security forces were leading an investigation into the incident.
It was not immediately known if there were any casualties.
It is relatively rare for rocket attacks of this kind to take place during the day.
The attack comes just days after the Pentagon launched airstrikes against Iran-aligned militia targets along the Iraq-Syria border, and as Pope Francis is scheduled to make a high-profile visit to Iraq on Friday. The assault also comes amid fears Washington and Tehran are in danger of reprising a series of tit-for-tat attacks that escalated last year.
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The U.S. strike along the Iraq-Syria border had been in response to a spate of rocket attacks that have targeted the U.S. presence — about 2,500 troops — in Iraq. A Feb. 16 attack, blamed by the Pentagon on Iran-backed militants operating in Iraq, killed a coalition contractor from the Philippines outside Iraq’s Irbil airport.
The Pentagon retaliated on Feb. 25 in President Joe Biden’s first military action.
The assaults come as Iran and the U.S. are struggling to revive diplomacy connected to a 2015 nuclear deal exited by the Trump administration.
President Biden has meanwhile vowed to recalibrate U.S. national security actions to favor the middle class. Reporting from USA TODAY has revealed the voluminous scale of U.S. overseas military bases and counter-terror operations two decades after 9/11.
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Pope Francis is due to visit Iraq Friday-Monday. It will be his first foreign trip since the pandemic erupted last year. Over the weekend, the Vatican defended the decision to go ahead with the trip despite rising coronavirus infections in Iraq. It said the pope’s trip is an “act of love for this land, for its people and for its Christians.”