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5 missiles hit yards away from US troops at Iraq base: Report

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)
May 31, 2022

Ayn al Asad, an Iraqi airbase hosting U.S. troops, came under attack from at least five missiles on Monday, two Iraqi officials told the Associated Press.

The missile attack that landed on the sprawling Iraqi base caused minor damage to the base but no casualties. Iraqi officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media, told the Associated Press that missiles landed just a few yards from where U.S. forces are stationed on the base.

It was not immediately clear who carried out the attack and no group has come forward to claim responsibility, though the U.S. has attributed previous rocket attacks to Iran-linked Shi’ite militia groups in Iraq.

Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), the name for the U.S.-led coalition mission in Iraq and Syria, had no public statements about Monday’s missile attack and did not immediately respond to an American Military News request for comment.

The Iraqi officials believe the base was hit with Soviet-made BM-21 Grad missiles, which have widely proliferated throughout countries in the Middle East.

There have been other attacks on bases hosting U.S. troops in Iraq in recent months. Such attacks were previously a more regular occurrence but have become less frequent in recent months.

U.S. troops at bases in Iraq and Syria came under attack from rockets and explosive drones in January. U.S. forces shot down multiple explosive drones flying near bases hosting their troops. While no groups claimed responsibility for those attacks, they 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 destroyed drones were the words “Leader’s revenge” and “Soleimani’s revenge.”

The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq also came under rocket attack in January.

In March, Iranian forces launched ballistic missiles that landed near the U.S. consulate in the northern Iraqi city of Erbil. Iranian media claimed the missile strikes destroyed an Israeli spy base in the city. Rather than directly hitting either Israeli or U.S. positions in Erbil, the missiles instead damaged civilian property in the area. 

President Joe Biden’s administration is still negotiating with Iran for a return to the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, which President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from in 2018. The negotiations have reportedly faltered over concerns about security guarantees and sanctions.

In April, an Iranian military official said the U.S. had repeatedly offered to lift sanctions that have been placed on Iran in exchange for commitments from the Iranian side to stop pursuing revenge for Soleimani’s death. The Iranian official said Iran has rejected such offers.