Baghdad – At least 10 rockets targeted a military base in western Iraq that is home to around 2,000 US troops on Wednesday, US and Iraqi military officials said. A US defense official told CBS News national security correspondent David Martin that there were no casualties among US or coalition troops, but a civilian contractor had died of ‘a heart attack during a rocket strike. The nationality of the entrepreneur was not immediately clear.
The rockets hit the Ain al-Asad air base in Anbar province at 7.20 a.m., according to Colonel Wayne Marotto, spokesman for the US-led military coalition.
The Iraqi military later issued a statement saying the attack did not cause significant casualties and that security forces found the launch pad used for the missiles. An Iraqi official said he was found in the al-Baghdadi area in Anbar, speaking on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to brief the media.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but a similar, larger-scale rocket strike on the same base a year ago by Iran-backed militias brought in the United States. on the verge of war with Iran.
Wednesday’s rocket salute was the first attack sincealong the Iraqi-Syrian border last week, killing a militiaman and stoking fears of a possible repeat of a series of tit-for-tat attacks that escalated last year, culminating in the strike of drones led by the United States outside Baghdad airport.
Wednesday’s attack targeted the same base Iran hit with a missile barrage in January last year in retaliation for Soleimani’s murder. Dozens of American servicemen were injured and suffered concussions during the strike. Asthe strike was the largest ballistic missile attack ever against the Americans.
His reporting for “60 Minutes” gave a first look at the video of the drone attack and he spoke to some of the US troops who were there the night that brought the US and Iran closer than never an all-out war.
Denmark, which also has troops at the base, condemned the attack, saying coalition forces in Ain al-Assad are there at the invitation of the Iraqi government, helping to bring stability and security to the country.
“The despicable attacks on the Ain al-Assad base in #Iraq are totally unacceptable,” Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod tweeted. The Danish armed forces said two Danes, who were in the camp at the time of the attack, are unharmed.
Wednesday’s attack comes two days before Pope Francis travels to Iraq on a highly anticipated trip that will include Baghdad, southern Iraq and the northern city of Erbil.
Last week’s U.S. strike along the border was in response to a wave of rocket attacks targeting the U.S. presence, including one that killed a Philippine coalition contractor outside of the U.S. Irbil airport.
After the attack, the Pentagon declared the strike a “proportionate military response” taken after consultation with coalition partners.
Marotto said Iraqi security forces were investigating the attack on Ain al-Assad.
US troops in Iraq significantly reduced their presence in the country last year under the Trump administration. Forces withdrew from several Iraqis based across the country to regroup mainly in Ain al-Asad and Baghad.
Frequent rocket attacks by the, targeting the heavily walled green area that housed the U.S. Embassy, during President Donald Trump’s tenure, frustrated the administration, leading to threats of embassy closures and escalating strikes.