On Wednesday, ten rockets were launched from an Iraqi military base stationed by a coalition led by the United States. This was the latest in a series of rocket attacks a few days before the Pope’s visit to Iraq.
The rocket aimed at the Ain Al-Asad Air Force Base in northwestern Baghdad at 7:20 am local time on Wednesday (11:20 pm EST Tuesday). The attack was confirmed in a tweet by Colonel Wayne Malotto, the military spokesperson for Operation “Inherent Determination” of the 83-member coalition to defeat ISIS.
He added that Iraqi security forces are leading the response and investigation.
Download the NBC News app to learn about major news and political news
General Tahseen al-Khafaji of the Iraqi Security Forces told NBC News that the attack occurred at 7:30 am local time (1
The Pentagon said there was a rocket attack on Wednesday after the United States launched an airstrike in eastern Syria last week. The airstrike killed a fighter plane and wounded two in an Iran-backed militia.
This operation is the first time that the Biden administration has used military means in retaliation for the deadly rocket attack on the U.S.-led joint base in Ibir, northern Iraq, and two other attacks last month.
The rocket attack in Erbil on February 15 was the deadliest attack on the U.S. leadership of the country in nearly a year, and echoed the echoes of another attack in December 2019, triggering a dangerous escalation between Iran and the United States. .
The latest attacks may raise concerns about a series of tit-for-tat escalations last year, which eventually led to the assassination of the senior Iranian general Qassem Soleimani by the United States in January last year.
Less than a week later, Iran fired missiles at the U.S. forces in Iraq in retaliation, injuring dozens of U.S. soldiers who suffered brain trauma. Ain al-Asad Air Force Base is one of two bases targeted by Iran.
NBC News previously reported that Iran-backed militias are most likely to follow the Irbil rocket attack in February, with weapons and tactics similar to those of previous militias linked to Iran. However, it is not clear whether Iran has encouraged or ordered rocket attacks.
After the attack on the Irbil base last month, a few days later, Iraq’s Balad Air Force Base was fired by rockets. A US defense company served the country’s fighter jets. Then two rockets landed at the US Embassy in Baghdad. Near the compound.
The most recent rocket attack occurred two days before Pope Francis went to Iraq. This will be the first visit to a Middle Eastern country by a Pope in history.
According to the Associated Press, Francis originally planned to visit Iraq in 2014, but St. John Paul II also planned to visit Iraq in 2000, but due to security considerations, both sides had to suspend the trip.
During the trip from Friday to Monday, Pope Francis will visit Baghdad, the Shiite holy city of Najaf and the northern city of Erbil, among other destinations.
He plans to meet with Ali al-Sistani, the spiritual leader of millions of Shiite Muslims. This is considered to be the first meeting between the Pope and the Great Ayatollah of Iraq.
When Francis delivered a speech in front of a general audience on Wednesday, he asked him to pray to ensure that his visit to Iraq was “performed in the best possible way.”
According to a Reuters translation, he said: “The people of Iraq are waiting for us. They are waiting for Pope John Paul II and he is not allowed to visit.” “The people can’t be disappointed anymore.”
According to the news agency, he did not mention the deteriorating security situation in the country.