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US troops under rocket attacks at bases in Iraq, Syria

Three mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles are parked at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, Apr. 9, 2020. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Derek Mustard)
January 05, 2022

A series of rocket attacks targeted multiple military bases hosting U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria on Wednesday.

Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve, the name for the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq and Syria, announced eight rounds of indirect fire weapons were launched at Green Village, a Syrian Democratic Forces base with a small U.S. and Coalition advisory presence in northeast Syria.

In a press release, Operation Inherent Resolve officials said they observed several launch sites for indirect fire rockets being set up in civilian areas near the Syrian base and assessed “Iran-supported malign actors” were responsible for the attacks.

“Coalition forces, acting on credible and actionable intelligence, responded swiftly and fired six rounds of artillery towards the point of origin of the attack just outside Mayadin, Syria,” the U.S.-led coalition said.

Later Wednesday, Al Asad Air Base in Iraq came under attack.

An official Iraqi security force social media account tweeted, “The security forces are conducting an inspection and investigating the incident of targeting the Ain Al-Assad Air Base of the Iraqi Air Force Command in Anbar Governorate with five missiles by outlaw elements, as they fell a distance from the vicinity of the base.. We will provide you with the details later,” according to a translation of the tweet.

Rockets were also fired on Al-Nasr camp, an Iraqi military facility near the Baghdad International Airport that hosts U.S. and coalition troops.

“A missile fell on Al-Nasr camp, west of Baghdad, where it was launched from the Al-Jihad neighborhood, and the security forces also found a rocket launcher on which a 240mm missile did not launch, and it was dismantled and handed over to the Directorate of Forensic Evidence…” the Iraqi security forces account tweeted.

The string of rocket attacks comes after separate drone attacks were attempted on Monday and Tuesday.

On Monday, two explosives-laden drones were shot down by a U.S. air defense system near the Baghdad airport. No group claimed responsibility for the attack, but the incident coincided with the two-year anniversary of the U.S. strike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani as he traveled through Baghdad with pro-Iranian paramilitary leaders. On the wings of one of the downed drones were the words “Leader’s revenge” and “Soleimani’s revenge.”

Iran has publically called for revenge for the strike that killed Soleimani and the tactic of using explosive “suicide drones” is consistent with Iran-backed Iraqi paramilitary groups.

Another pair of explosive drones were shot down near the Al Asad Air Base on Tuesday. Video from the incident showed one of the drones being shot down by a counter-rocket, artillery and mortar (C-RAM) system.

BBC correspondent Nafiseh Kohnavard first shared video from the incident. “BREAKING Footage taken by US defensive systems, C-RAM at Ain Al Asad Air Base shows the moment that ‘two suicide drones’ were engaged & shot down.”

During a Tuesday press briefing, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said U.S. troops “clearly are at risk in the region,” adding, “we have to take that threat very seriously. We always have the right of self-defense.”

On Dec. 9, 2021, the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq officially shifted from a combat role to a support role in the country. Operation Inherent Resolve’s mission has been to defeat the Islamic State terrorist group, also known as Daesh or ISIS. U.S. troops in the country have consistently remained at risk even as the counter-ISIS mission has wound down.