Rocket fire near an airport in Iraqi Kurdistan has left one civilian contractor dead and six others with injuries, including an American soldier, a Pentagon spokesman said. Reports indicate the blasts targeted a US-occupied base.
“Initial reports that Indirect Fire landed on Coalition Forces in Erbil tonight. There was 1 civilian contractor killed, 5 civilian contractors injured and 1 US service member injured,” said Colonel Wayne Marotto, spokesman for the US-led coalition’s Operation Inherent Resolve, in a tweet on Monday evening. He did not specify the nationality of the contractors involved.
Initial reports that Indirect Fire landed on Coalition Forces in Erbil tonight. There was 1 civilian contractor killed, 5 civilian contractors injured and 1 US service member injured. More information to follow.
— OIR Spokesman Col. Wayne Marotto (@OIRSpox) February 15, 2021
A statement from the Interior Ministry of the Kurdistan Regional Government noted that at least three rockets struck near Erbil, the Kurdish capital in northern Iraq, late on Monday night, adding that “several people were injured” in the blasts.
Reuters journalists based in Erbil also reported “several loud explosions” and a fire near the Erbil International Airport around the same time – confirmed to the outlet by Kurdish security sources – while other local reporters circulated footage purporting to show a “huge blaze” near the airport and the military base used by US forces directly adjacent to it.
A militant faction dubbed Saraya Awliya al-Dam has claimed responsibility for the attack on the “American occupation,” pledging to carry out more strikes in the future, according to Reuters and local journalists. However, the Shia militia group, which has previously taken credit for other attacks on US forces in Iraq, offered no evidence to support the claim.
The Kurdistan region’s Prime Minister Masrour Barzani denounced the attack “in the strongest terms” in a tweet later on Monday, stating that an investigation would be launched and that he had discussed ways to coordinate the probe with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.
I condemn in the strongest terms tonight’s rocket attacks on Erbil. I urge all Kurdistanis to remain calm. I’ve instructed security services to start a full investigation and spoke with PM @MAKadhimi on ways to cooperate and identify the outlaws behind this terror attack -mb.
— Masrour Barzani پابەندین# (@masrour_barzani) February 15, 2021
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