Second attack in days

US troops targeted in western Iraq, says official

NEWSROOM – U.S. forces stationed at a base in western Iraq were targeted in an attack on Tuesday, according to a statement from a U.S. defense official.

This marks the second attack on U.S. troops in Iraq after a pause lasting more than two months.

The incident follows another assault over the weekend, where rockets were fired from northern Iraq at a base in neighboring Syria housing forces from the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State jihadist group.

The defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the attack on Al-Asad Air Base in Iraq’s Anbar province, emphasizing that no injuries or damage were reported.

“This was the second attack against U.S. forces since February 4,” the official noted.

Since mid-October, U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria have faced approximately 184 attacks from Iran-backed Iraqi armed factions, as reported by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

This cycle of violence, marked by rocket and drone attacks followed by retaliatory strikes, had ceased temporarily following U.S. air raids on Iran-linked targets in late January and early February. These raids were prompted by a deadly attack on a base in Jordan by Iraqi militias, which claimed the lives of three U.S. service members.

While the majority of the attacks against U.S. troops have been attributed to the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, a coalition of Iran-backed groups critical of U.S. support for Israel, no group has claimed responsibility for the recent attacks.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller attributed the recent assaults on U.S. troops to Kata’ib Hezbollah and Iran, reiterating the U.S. commitment to defending its military personnel.

The attacks occurred in the aftermath of a high-profile visit by Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani to Washington, where he highlighted stable security conditions to encourage U.S. investment in Iraq.

Notably, Iraqi armed groups have also purportedly targeted Israel on several occasions. U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin recently stated that Iraq was among four countries from which Iran launched drone and missile attacks against Israel on April 13 and 14. Israel’s response on April 19 is suspected to have targeted the Kalsu military base in southern Baghdad, jointly operated by the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) and Iraqi defense and interior ministries.

An Iraqi government committee investigating the incident at Kalsu attributed the large explosions to an internal blast and fire incident. The PMF has not attributed the attack to Israel either, aligning with Iran’s downplaying of Israeli involvement in an attack on a strategic airbase in Isfahan.

The PMF’s relationship with the Islamic Resistance is complex, with the latter groups officially part of the former. The PMF has faced criticism for denouncing U.S. airstrikes against Islamic Resistance elements as targeting the PMF while denying any direct involvement in attacks on U.S. forces.

The latest incidents underscore ongoing tensions in the region and raise concerns about stability amid diplomatic efforts and economic initiatives.

(Reporting by AFP and 964media)