The missile struck the Iraqi air base where US troops are stationed a year after a similar attack brought the US and Iran close to war
Baghdad – At least 10 missiles were aimed at a military base in western Iraq, where about 2,000 US soldiers were stationed on Wednesday, US and Iraqi military officials said. A U.S. defense official told CBS News national security correspondent David Martin that no casualties had been reported among U.S. or coalition forces, but an American civil contractor hiding in a bunker on the base died during the missile attack a heart attack.
According to Col. Wayne Marotto, a spokesman for the US-led military coalition, the missiles hit the Ain al-Asad air base in Anbar province at 7:20 a.m.
The Iraqi military later issued a statement that the attack caused no significant losses and that security forces had found the launch pad for the missiles. An Iraqi official said it was found in the al-Baghdadi area of Anbar. He spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to inform the media.
There was no immediate claim to responsibility for the attack, but a similar missile attack by Iranian-backed militias on the same base a year ago put the US on the brink of war with Iran.
Wednesday’s rocket salvo was the first attack sincealong the Iraqi-Syrian border last week, killing a militiaman, raising fears of a possible repetition of a series of attacks that escalated last year and culminated in the US-directed drone attack outside Baghdad airport.
Wednesday’s attack targeted the same base Iran hit with a flood of missiles last January in retaliation for Soleimani’s assassination. Dozens of US soldiers were injured and suffered concussions in the strike. HowThe strike was the largest ballistic missile attack ever against Americans.
His “60 Minutes” report gave an initial glimpse into the drone video of the attack and spoke to some of the American troops who were there on the night that brought the US and Iran closer than ever to full-scale war.
Denmark, which also has troops at the base, condemned the attack, saying that coalition forces were in Ain al-Asad at the invitation of the Iraqi government to bring stability and security to the country.
“Contemptuous attacks against the Ain al-Asad base in Iraq are completely unacceptable,” tweeted Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod. The Danish Armed Forces said two Danes who were in the camp at the time of the attack were unharmed.
The attack on Wednesday comes two days before Pope Francis’ planned visit to Iraq on a highly anticipated trip that will include Baghdad, southern Iraq and the northern city of Erbil.
Last week’s U.S. strike along the border was in response to a spate of rocket attacks targeting the American presence, including one that killed a coalition entrepreneur from the Philippines outside the Irbil airport.
Following the attack, the Pentagon said the strike was an “appropriate military response” that was taken after consultation with coalition partners.
Marotto said Iraqi security forces have opened an investigation into the attack on Ain al-Asad.
US forces in Iraq significantly reduced their presence in the country last year under the Trump administration. The armed forces withdrew from several Iraqis stationed across the country, mainly to consolidate in Ain al-Asad and Baghad.
Frequent missile attacks theDuring President Donald Trump’s tenure, the administration was frustrated, threatening the closure of the embassy and escalating strikes.
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