Iraq air base housing U.S. troops attacked by Iran-linked militants

Iranian-linked militants attacked an air base housing U.S. and Iraqi troops in western Iraq, U.S. Central Command stated — the newest incident focusing on American forces within the area because the Israel-Gaza conflict continues to stoke tensions.

Ballistic missiles and rockets focused Ain al-Asad Air Base, in Iraq’s Anbar province, round 6:30 p.m. native time Saturday, Centcom said on social media. According to Centcom, “most” of the missiles have been intercepted by the base’s air protection methods, however some “impacted on the base.”

A lot of U.S. personnel have been being evaluated for traumatic mind accidents, and at the very least one Iraqi service member was wounded, Centcom stated, including: “Damage assessments are ongoing.” Reuters reported that U.S. troops suffered “minor injuries” within the assault. The Defense Department referred The Washington Post on Sunday to Centcom, which didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

The Islamic Resistance in Iraq, a coalition together with Iranian-linked militias, claimed duty for the assault towards Ain al-Asad. In a press release Saturday, the group stated the strike was a part of its broader resistance towards the continued presence of U.S. troops in Iraq and in response to Israel’s actions in Gaza.

The assault comes amid a broader enhance in strikes towards U.S. troops primarily based in Iraq and Syria in retaliation for Washington’s help of Israel and its navy operation in Gaza, which the territory’s Health Ministry stated has killed over 25,000 and injured over 62,600.

The conflict has fueled considerations about regional spillover affecting international locations together with Yemen, Lebanon, Iran and Pakistan — and the roughly 2,500 U.S. troops deployed in Iraq as a part of efforts to fight the Islamic State terrorist group. There have been greater than 130 assaults on U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria by Iranian-backed militant teams since Oct. 17, in accordance with the Pentagon.

Iranian strikes in Iraq stoke fears of additional Middle East escalation

The assaults have thrust the federal government of Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani into the center of the rising tensions between Tehran and Washington. They additionally recommend that an unofficial détente with Iraq’s Iranian-linked militants — who had halted assaults on U.S. targets that they started after President Donald Trump withdrew from a landmark nuclear cope with Iran in 2018 — has come to an finish. The pause in strikes on bases housing American troops started in October 2022 with the appointment of Sudani and ended with the beginning of the conflict in Gaza.

After U.S. forces carried out what the Pentagon called a “self-defense” strike in Baghdad focusing on a frontrunner of an Iranian-backed militia on Jan. 4, al-Sudani’s workplace stated it will take steps to evict U.S. troops, Reuters reported. However, a number of days after the strike, the Pentagon’s press secretary, Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder, told reporters he was “not aware of any plans” to withdraw American troops or “of any notifications by the Iraqi government to the Department of Defense.”

“We’re there at the invitation of the government of Iraq,” Ryder stated.

The spate of assaults has additionally prompted tensions between Iraq and Iran. Last week, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) fired ballistic missiles at what it stated have been members of the Islamic State group in Syria and the “espionage headquarters” of Israel’s Mossad intelligence company in Iraq’s semiautonomous Kurdistan area, in accordance with statements published by state media.

In response, Iraq recalled its ambassador from Tehran, and al-Sudani referred to as it “an act of aggression against Iraq and a setback to the historical relationship with Iran.” Iraq and Kurdish officers denied Iran’s claims in regards to the alleged spy website, and the Israeli prime minister’s press workplace declined to remark.

Israel has waged considered one of this century’s most damaging wars in Gaza

Earlier on Saturday, an explosion within the Syrian capital killed 5 Iranian navy advisers, in accordance with the IRGC, which accused Israel of invading Damascus.

When reached requested in regards to the Damascus strike, the Israeli navy stated it doesn’t touch upon overseas reviews. Iranian state media reported that Tehran referred to as the strike a “desperate attempt to spread instability” within the area and stated it has the fitting to reply.

The IRGC stated that the assault was carried out by “fighter jets” and that “a number of Syrian forces” have been among the many useless.

Video of the aftermath Saturday confirmed smoke rising above the town. Syrian state media stated the blast struck a residential constructing within the western Damascus neighborhood of Mezzeh that’s dwelling to diplomatic missions and assist businesses.

Kyle Melnick and Niha Masih contributed to this report.

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