At least 10 rockets struck a military base in western Iraq housing U.S.-led coalition troops on Wednesday, March 3. The attack was reportedly in retaliation for missiles fired last week on the orders of President Joe Biden at a military base in Syria. It is not known at this stage if there were any casualties.
A dozen rockets hit the Ain al-Asad air base in Anbar Province at 7:20 a.m. Wednesday, said Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman Col. Wayne Marotto, who also added that Iraqi security forces are leading an investigation into the attack.
Initial report: 10 IDF rockets targeted an Iraqi military base, Al Asad Airbase, hosting Coalition troops, on March 03, 2021 at approx 7:20 a.m. (Iraqi time). Iraqi SF are leading the response & investigation. Further information will be released as it becomes available.
— OIR Spokesman Col. Wayne Marotto (@OIRSpox) March 3, 2021
Following the message published by Marotto, the Iraqi army issued a statement saying that the attack had not caused significant losses and that security forces had found the launching platform used for the missiles.
The attack may be in retaliation to the attack ordered by President Biden last week.
This was the first strike since the United States attacked targets of Iran-aligned militias along the Iraq-Syria border last week, stoking fears of a possible repeat of tit-for-tat attacks as in times past.
The U.S. attack was ordered by President Biden and provoked strong criticism from the international community, and the Pentagon attempted to clarify in an official statement that the attack was a “proportionate military response” taken after consultation with coalition partners.
The Iraqi base is the same one that suffered an attack last February in a bombing that left at least 100 soldiers with head injuries. Patriot missiles were installed at the base after that attack, Fox News reported.
The attack also coincides with the announcement of Pope Francis’s historic visit, scheduled for Friday of this week. The controversial announcement of the papal visit raised several alarms, considering that in Iraq, not so long ago, ISIS forces attempted to eliminate Christians and the conflicts left many wounds in society that have yet to be resolved.
“In every part of the country that Pope Francis will visit there are scars—scars of war, of loss, of trauma,” Mina Al-Oraibi, editor in chief of The National newspaper based in Abu Dhabi, wrote in her paper last week.
It was security fears that delayed the pope’s visit to Iraq for quite some time. After the recent attacks on the Iraqi military base, just two days before the pontiff’s arrival, the Vatican has not yet said whether plans for the controversial papal visit will change.