Targeting Iraq's Ain Al-Assad Airbase
Injuries reported in rocket barrage against coalition forces
BAGHDAD, 20 January — More than a dozen missiles targeted a military base in western Iraq on Saturday, a facility housing U.S. and other coalition forces united against jihadism, according to statements from an Iraqi police official and an American soldier to AFP.
The Ain al-Assad airbase in al-Anbar province was hit by 15 rockets, with anti-aircraft defenses intercepting 13 and two landing within the base, the police official, who preferred to remain anonymous, reported.
An American military official confirmed the attack and said a joint damage assessment by American, coalition, and Iraqi forces is in progress. The official also disclosed preliminary reports of a seriously injured Iraqi security force member but could not immediately confirm the ammunition type, initially described as “ballistic missiles.”
This strike comes at a tense regional moment marked by the Gaza conflict between Israel and Hamas, and rising actions across the region. It follows an accusation by Iran of an Israeli strike in Damascus resulting in the deaths of Revolutionary Guards members. Tehran has warned of reprisals.
On Monday, Iran launched ballistic missiles into northern Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan Region, alleging it was hitting a Mossad site. Kurdish officials deny any Mossad presence in the Region.
These developments preceded a statement by UNAMI today, calling for restraint amidst the escalating conflict, particularly noting the risk of Iraq being further drawn into these tensions despite government efforts to maintain stability.
The UN Special Representative for Iraq emphasized the need for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, sustained relief, respect for international humanitarian law, and the protection of civilians: “Iraq is at risk of being drawn even further into this conflict. Despite the Government’s efforts to prevent the escalation of tensions, continued attacks – originating from within and outside of Iraq’s borders – stand to undo the hard-won stability of the country and the achievements it has made in recent years.”
Since mid-October, American soldiers and coalition forces in Iraq and Syria, fighting against the Islamic State (IS) group, have been the targets of numerous attacks. These assaults, primarily drone strikes or rocket attacks, have been mostly claimed by the “Islamic Resistance in Iraq,” a coalition of pro-Iran armed groups.
(AFP contributed to this report)