Hours after the Iraqi government pledged to protect foreign missions in the country, several rockets were fired at a US military base in Iraqi Kurdistan, but no casualties were reported.
The Kurdish Security Agency said rockets hit a U.S. military base near Erbil airport in Iraq’s semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan on Wednesday. The rockets, however, were destroyed in mid-air and no casualties were reported.
Rocket attacks are rare in Erbil. Iraqi officials believe the incident reflects the gravity of the situation, as the attack comes just hours after the Iraqi prime minister announced his intention to improve the security of foreign missions inside the country.
A statement from the Iraqi Kurdistan Anti-Terrorism Service said that the Popular Mobilization Force (PMF) fired six rockets from the border village of Sheikh Amir in Nineveh province, targeting Erbil International Airport. Nearby were coalition bases.
The PMF is a joint group comprising mostly Iranian-backed Iraqi Shiite militias.
According to the Iraqi Kurdistan Anti-Terrorism Service, the missiles were destroyed in mid-air and caused no major damage. But a rocket is said to have hit the headquarters of an Iranian Kurdish opposition party. The party is banned in Iran.
The U.S. official military Spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) says, “Initial reports that Indirect Fire did not land on Coalition Forces in Erbil tonight. There was no damage or casualties. Incident is under investigation.”
Initial reports that Indirect Fire did not land on Coalition Forces in Erbil tonight. There was no damage or casualties. Incident is under investigation.
— OIR Spokesman Col. Wayne Marotto (@OIRSpox) September 30, 2020
There are currently US-led coalition forces inside Erbil airport, but Iraq’s diplomatic compound is located in a high-security zone in Baghdad.
The compound has also been hit by rockets and has seen a sharp rise in recent attacks, prompting the United States to threaten if the alleged Shiite militia is not brought under control. If no decisive action is taken against him, he will close his embassy.
Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq said in a Tweet, “I strongly condemn tonight’s rocket attack in Erbil. The KRG will not tolerate any attempt to undermine Kurdistan’s stability and our response will be robust.”
I strongly condemn tonight’s rocket attack in Erbil. The KRG will not tolerate any attempt to undermine Kurdistan’s stability and our response will be robust.
I have spoken to PM @MAKadhimi on the importance of holding the perpetrators accountable -mb.
— Masrour Barzani پابەندین# (@masrour_barzani) September 30, 2020