US contractor killed, several wounded in rocket attack in northern Iraq
A volley of rockets targeting an airbase in Iraq’s Kurdistan region killed a foreign civilian contractor and wounded five others and a US soldier, the US-led coalition said.
The attack late Monday was the first time in nearly two months that Western military or diplomatic installations have been targeted in Iraq, after a string of similar incidents.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called for an investigation and promised to “hold accountable those responsible”.
“Several American contractors” appeared to have been wounded he added, without giving further details.
Former US president Donald Trump had threatened that the killing of an American national in such a rocket attack would prompt a mass bombing campaign in Iraq.
Iraqi and Western security sources told AFP that at least three rockets were fired in the direction of the city’s airport, where foreign troops are based as part of an international alliance fighting the Islamic State group.
Coalition spokesman Colonel Wayne Marotto confirmed to AFP that the dead contractor was not Iraqi, but could not give immediate details on the victim’s nationality.
Since Iraq declared victory against IS in late 2017, the coalition has been reduced to under 3,500 troops in total, 2,500 of them Americans.
Most are concentrated at the military complex at the Arbil airport, a coalition source told AFP.
The attack was claimed by a shadowy group calling itself “Awliyaa al-Dam” or “Guardians of Blood”.
Around a dozen such groups have cropped up in the past year claiming rocket attacks, but US and Iraqi security officials have told AFP they believe them to be front groups for prominent pro-Iran factions including Kataeb Hezbollah and Asaib Ahl al-Haq.
Two other rockets hit residential neighbourhoods on Arbil’s outskirts…..read more