Guardians of Blood Strikes Again? US Soldiers in Iraq's Irbil Targeted in Rocket Attack

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Yet another rocket attack targeted US soldiers based in Iraq's Irbil on Wednesday. The airport in Irbil, which also houses some US soldiers, was the target of the attack. Officials from Iraqi Kurdistan said there were no casualties. Irbil is the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan.

"It caused no casualties or damage," Arbil governor Omed Khoshnaw told the official Iraqi news agency, Reuters reported. No one claimed responsibility for the attack. Iran-backed militias have taken responsibility for similar attacks in the past. Witnesses said loud explosions were heard in the city.

Iraqi military bases housing US troops across Iraq, as well as the US embassy in the Green Zone, have been frequently targeted by mortar and rocket attacks.

In February, foreign troops stationed in Iraq's Irbil as part of international efforts to fight Islamic State (Isis) terrorists were targeted with rocket fire, killing at least one personnel and injuring five more. At least three rockets were fired targeting Baghdad's airport. The attack in Irbil was deadliest strike at US forces in a in a year.

Map of US airbases in Iraq
Map of US airbases in Iraq Wikimedia Commons

Iran-backed militias have increased attacks on bases where US soldiers are stationed ever since Joe Biden took over as the president of the United States. The region has seen more than 20 bomb or rocket attacks targeting US soldiers in the last four months.

February's attack was claimed by militant group Saraya Awliya al-Dam. One US service member was injured in the attack, officials from the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region said, while a foreign civilian contractor was killed.

The terror outfit that claimed the rocket attack in February is a shadowy fringe group operating in the region. Reports say a dozen or more radical outfits have come up in the region in recent times, launching attacks against Western bases. The name 'Awliyaa al-Dam translates into "Guardians of Blood." According to geopolitical experts these groups are front organizations for pro-Iran factions like Kataeb Hezbollah and Asaib Ahl al-Haq.

According to an Iraqi security source, rockets also had crashed in the vicinity of a base that houses Turkish troops, AFO reported.

The latest attack comes amid speculation of an imminent US pullback from the region. US said last week it was looking at moving all remaining combat forces from Iraq. Though the US has taken the Baghdad administration into confidence regarding troop withdrawal, there is still uncertainty over its outcome as the current dispensation has a trust deficit with powerful Iran-backed political factions in the country.