Balad airbase, an American base in northern Baghdad, has been the target of new round of rocket attacks against American targets in Iraq.
According to an Iraqi official, three rockets dropped in an area where Sallyport, a US company that manages Iraq’s F-16 aircraft purchased from the US, is based.
According to the anonymous source, an employee working for the company was slightly injured in Balad airbase. 15 minutes later, three other rockets hit a place in the vicinity but missed the base.
As US officials asserted, no US forces were deployed to Balad, while American contractors were operating the place. Jessica McNulty, Pentagon spokesperson, in an early reaction to the incidents, said that no major casualties or damages were spotted.
Two rockets had struck a US-led coalition airbase at Baghdad Airport a day earlier. There were no fatalities on the Sunday assault either. Neither attacks were claimed by groups inside or outside the country.
In response, US Pentagon Press Secretary asserted that the recurrent attacks against US interests in Iraq is indicative of the fact that Washington’s operation in the country is still dangerous.
“We’re there to help Iraqi security forces as they also prosecute operations against ISIS. So any violent attack on them or us is of concern, and it does show … it’s still a dangerous mission,” John Kirby reiterated.
“We’re going to respect that. We’re also going to do whatever we need to do to make sure that we’re adequately protecting our troops on the ground and our national security interests there in Iraq,” Kirby added.
US Interests under Attack
US Pentagon Press Secretary found Iraqi officials responsible for the investigations over the attacks. US forces remained in Iraq for over two decades to maintain regional stability while their forces are stuck in incessant strikes.
Since the new administration took office early in 2021, more than 30 rockets were launched towards US interests in Iraq. Military forces, the embassy, and Iraqi supply convoys were among the main targets.
Two international contractors, along with one Iraqi contractor and dozens of Iraqi civilians were victims of those strikes. The assaults on US troops and diplomats are regularly blamed on Iraqi forces with links to Iran.
Two rockets landed near the same base last month, resulting in no injuries or collateral damage. An explosives-laden drone also hit into Iraq’s Erbil airport in April, marking the first known utilization of these sort of weaponry against a US interests in the Middle East.
Biden’s predecessor also experienced dozens of other attacks in Iraq especially after 2019. Unidentified organizations sometimes claim responsibility for the operations, while observers believe these groups are unofficial representations for public call in the country for US forces to leave Iraq’s soil.
Since 2019 onward, after a series of hostilities inside Iraq mostly perpetrated by Trump’s officials, public dissatisfaction with the continuation of US military presence soared. Public protests erupted and attacks against American targets increased.
After a US drone attack, directly ordered by then-president Trump, murdered Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani and an Iraqi high-rank commander in Baghdad airport early last year, Iraqi lawmakers initiated calling on the US to withdraw its troops from the country. Parliament passed a non-binding resolution urging the local government to force-oust all foreign forces from Iraq.
As a result, the two countries held diplomatic negotiations, focusing largely on the future of US troop operation in Iraq. According to former administration directives, the number of US troops in Iraq was cut to 2,500 in late 2020.
The recent strikes against Balad airbase and other American positions in Iraq indicates that the decisions made by the two sides, or the implementation process of the decisions, were not welcomed by public communities in Iraq.