Published: Tue, February 16, 2021
Economy | By

USA secretary of state outraged after Erbil rocket attack kills civilian contractor

USA secretary of state outraged after Erbil rocket attack kills civilian contractor

In a statement, the Kurdistan region's interior ministry confirmed "several rockets" had hit the city and said security agencies had launched a "detailed investigation", urging civilians to stay home until further notice.

"Egypt expresses its honest condolences to the government and the brotherly people of the Republic of Iraq, and the families of the victims in the repugnant terrorist attack, wishing a speedy recovery to the injured", the statement said.

Coalition spokesman Wayne Marotto said three rockets hit Arbil airport, killing one foreign civilian contractor who is not an American national.

In another tweet she wrote: "Iraq already faces multiple crises, and such callous acts as the rocket attack on Erbil can not be allowed to undermine stability and recovery".

Monday, Russia Today reported that three mortars fell inside Erbil's International Airport, and one rocket landed in a residential area near the airport.

In recent months, attacks targeting USA forces have become less frequent, but analysts and diplomats have suggested that Iran may now seek to test President Biden's administration in Washington.

Days after that strike, the Iranian government launched missile attacks against U.S. forces at the Ain al Assad air base in Iraq's Anbar province, wounding more than 100 troops. Tensions soared after a Washington-directed drone strike that killed top Iranian Gen. Qassim Soleimani and powerful Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis a year ago.

Iraq's government under Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi has sided with the United States against Iran-aligned militias but has struggled to bring the powerful paramilitary groups under control.

The number of American troops in Iraq has been reduced, but there are still about 2,500 service members here. Monday's attack was the first to strike the area in five months.

"I have reached out to Kurdistan Regional Government Prime Minister Masrour Barzani to discuss the incident and to pledge our support for all efforts to investigate and hold accountable those responsible".

A little-known group known as Awliya al Dam (Guardian of the Blood) brigades claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it had launched the rockets in revenge for the deaths of "the martyred leaders". No one immediately claimed responsibility.

They previously claimed several attacks on contractor convoys carrying USA military equipment and supplies, mostly in southern Iraq and near Baghdad, said Evan Kohlmann, one of the founders of the risk intelligence firm Flashpoint.

The United Nations warned Tuesday that Iraq could spin out of control after a rocket attack on the Kurdish regional capital Arbil killed a foreign contractor for the U.S. military and wounded several other people.

In turn, Iran denied any links to the fatal attack.

Ashab Ahl al-Kahf has claimed previous rocket attacks on U.S. bases but is thought by Iraqi and Western officials to be a "smokescreen" for other groups.

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