Two rocket attacks in one hour target central Iraqi military bases

An aerial view of central Iraq's Balad Air Base. (Photo: Archive)
An aerial view of central Iraq's Balad Air Base. (Photo: Archive)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Roughly an hour after an Iraqi military airbase north of Baghdad that houses US military contractors was targeted in a rocket attack late Wednesday, at least one additional rocket was fired at another base inside the compound of Baghdad International Airport.

The Iraqi military press office known as the Security Media Cell said in a statement that the first facility, Balad Airbase, was targeted by three rockets that caused no casualties or material losses.

Balad previously housed a small unit of the US Air Force that was part of the Coalition to Defeat ISIS, but now primarily hosts Iraqi armed forces along with a small number of contractors from Virginia-based Sallyport Global who are tasked with maintaining Iraq's F-16 fighter jets.

Iraqi media outlets cited an unnamed security source that claimed the rockets were launched from villages in the nearby Khalis District along the banks of the Tigris River, adding that there were in fact five rockets fired, some of which fell near hangers housing F-16s.

Additional security sources confirmed to Kurdistan 24 that the second attack at Camp Victory had indeed occurred, but gave no further details.

So far, no group has claimed responsibility for firing the rockets at either location, but similar previous attacks have been widely blamed on Iran-backed militias of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF). 

The incidents come just hours after the Iraqi judiciary on Wednesday released a top PMF commander, claiming there was insufficient evidence to support terrorism charges against him.

Read More: PMF commander, arrested on terrorism charges, released by Iraqi authorities

Qassim Musleh, head of the PMF in western Anbar province, was arrested by elite Iraqi forces on May 27 on charges linked to the killing of two prominent civil society activists in the city of Karbala.

Following Musleh’s arrest, members of the militia group flocked to Baghdad's fortified Green Zone, where many government buildings – including Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s office and residence –  to demand his release. 

Iraq and the autonomous Kurdistan Region continue to witness rocket attacks on or near various installations hosting either US diplomatic corps or coalition forces.

Editing by John J. Catherine