Skirmishes continue in Iraq. Seven rockets targeted an air base housing American soldiers north of Baghdad on Monday evening, the latest episode in a series of attacks for which Washington blames pro-Iran factions. Already on March 3, an American subcontractor was killed in an attack on another air base, that of Ain al-Assad, in the desert west of Iraq.
The attack on Monday evening caused no casualties or damage inside the Balad base, a security official told AFP. According to him, only two rockets had landed in the enclosure of the base, while five others had crashed on the nearby village of al-Bou Hassan.
The Katyusha-type rockets were fired from a village in the neighboring province of Diya a, further east, a place where other rocket launches at Balad have already been located, the same source continued. The last shots were not immediately claimed, but each time Washington points to the many armed groups trained and financed by Iran. Since mid-February, rocket fire in Iraq against American troops or the United States embassy has resumed.
Rockets thus fell near the American embassy in Baghdad and others had already targeted the Balad air base, injuring an Iraqi employee of an American company in charge of the maintenance of F-16. Rockets also hit a military base housing the coalition at the airport in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan in the north. Two people were killed, including a foreign civilian contractor working for the coalition.
Before that, for nearly two months, the pro-Iran had respected a truce that they had announced unilaterally. If the American military or diplomatic installations had been spared during this period, bombs exploded on several occasions as Iraqi convoys providing logistical support to troops of the coalition formed in 2014 by Washington to defeat the Islamic State (IS) group passed.
2,500 American soldiers deployed
Sworn enemies, the Islamic Republic of Iran and the United States both have a presence or allies in Iraq. Washington deploys some 2,500 soldiers there and Iran has, among others, the support of Hachd al-Chaabi, a powerful coalition of paramilitaries integrated into the Iraqi state, composed mainly of armed factions and financed by Tehran.
And with each deadly attack, Washington threatens to “do what is necessary” and promises to make Iran pay a heavy price.
At the end of February, the United States carried out a raid against pro-Iran Iraqi militiamen in Syria. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (OSDH), 22 Iraqi militiamen had perished. According to the Pentagon, the strike only killed one person.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby admitted that the strike had not had the expected deterrent effect but pleaded that “no one wants an escalation.” In January 2020, such a spiral almost escalated into open conflict in Iraq, after an American drone killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad, in response to the deaths of Americans in Iraq.