Two Rockets Hit Balad Air Base in Iraq Housing US Personnel

Two rockets landed near an Iraqi military air base in Salahudin province north of capital Baghdad, which houses some US experts and advisers. This is the latest in a series of rocket attacks on Iraqi military bases which have American presence.

The office of the Iraqi Joint Operations Command said the rockets landed near the Balad air base, which is some 90 km north of Baghdad. The attack did not cause casualties. The missiles were fired from al-Dojama, an area located across the Tigris River in the neighboring Diyala province, IANS reported, citing a statement issued by the media office of the Iraqi command.

The Balad air base had been targeted in mid-March by the Iran-backed militia. As many as seven rockets were fired into the Iraqi airbase that houses US troops, escalating the tensions that increased following the sensational killing of Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iraq's elite Quds Force commander, in January 2020. The Iranian strongman was killed in a US drone attack near the Baghdad capital.

In retaliation, Iran fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two United States military bases in Iraq. The strikes followed the death of more than 35 people during a stampede at the funeral of Soleimani.

Balad Airbase a Routine Target

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

Balad is the largest military air base in Iraq and still houses some US experts and advisers. The US troops withdrew more than a year ago after the base came under a series of rocket attacks by unidentified militias.

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.

Baghdad Green Zone
Baghdad Green Zone Wikimedia Commons

In another attack in early March, a US sub-contractor was killed when the militia targeted the Ain Al-Assad airbase in western Iraq.

Also in February, the US military launched airstrikes against Iran-backed targets in eastern Syria. The strikes in Syria were a response to the rocket attacks against US targets in Iraq.

The US defense headquarters said the strikes targeted multiple facilities at a border control point used by Iranian-backed militant groups, such as Kata'ib Hezbollah (KH) and Kata'ib Sayyid al-Shuhada (KSS).