At least four Iraqi soldiers were injured on Sunday after rockets hit an airbase north of Baghdad, where US troops have been stationed, AFP reported. At least eight rockets struck the Al Balad airbase and wounded two Iraqi officers and two airmen. No one has claimed responsibility yet.
Some American advisers, trainers and personnel providing maintenance for F-16 jets were based at Al Balad. However, most of them were evacuated due to the escalating tensions between US and Iran.
“About 90% of the US advisers, and employees of Sallyport and Lockheed Martin who are specialised in aircraft maintenance, have withdrawn to Taji and Erbil after threats,” a source told AFP. “There are no more than 15 US soldiers and a single plane at al-Balad.”
This attack came just days after Iran launched an attack on two airbases housing United States soldiers in Iraq in retaliation against last week’s assassination of its top military commander Qassem Soleimani. The assassination triggered renewed tensions between the United States and Iran. Soleimani was the head of the elite Quds Force. Tehran also accidentally shot down a passenger aircraft, killing 176 people.
Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has accepted that deescalation was the only solution to resolve the crisis with America. “We agreed...that the only solution to these crises is de-escalation from everyone and dialogue,” Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani said after visiting Rouhani.
Rouhani said: “Given the importance of security of the region... we’ve decided to have more consultations and cooperation for the security of the entire region.”