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

Rocket attack in Erbil kills US military contractor

Rocket attack in Erbil kills US military contractor

A civilian contractor was killed and a USA service member was injured when rockets fell on the airfield where US and coalition forces are based in the capital of Iraq's northern Kurdistan region Monday, the military said.

Several other rockets landed in residential areas of the city, the capital of the Kurdistan region of Iraq, including one close to the Chinese Consulate.

Former President Donald Trump said at the time that the strike was in response to the threat Iran and Soleimani were planning to blow up the U.S. Embassy in Iraq, which had just been attacked.

It was the most deadly attack to hit US-led forces in nearly a year in Iraq, where tensions have escalated between USA forces, their Iraqi and Kurdish allies on one side and Iran-aligned militias on the other.

Most of the incidents have caused no casualties, but have kept up pressure on USA troops and U.S. allies in the region in the early days of Joe Biden's presidency.

Rockets struck outside Irbil worldwide airport near where U.S. forces are based in northern Iraq late Monday, killing one US-led coalition contractor and wounding at least eight people, Iraqi security and coalition officials reported, sparking fears of new hostilities. In the aftermath, Iran retaliated with a barrage of missiles targeting American soldiers on Ain Al Asad base in western Iraq. Another attack in September past year thought to have been targeting Baghdad's global airport killed six Iraqi civilians.

US troops occupy a military base adjacent to the civilian airport.

It's the first time in 2 months that U.S. installations have been targeted in Iraq.

The coalition did not reveal the nationality of the civilian contractor who was killed.

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There are reports of civilians being injured in the attack.

In a later statement, a little-known Shiite militant group calling itself the Guardians of Blood Brigade claimed responsibility for the attack. No one immediately claimed responsibility.

In Washington, a White House spokesperson said President Joe Biden had been briefed on the attack in Irbil, but offered no other comment or details.

Smoke rises over the Erbil after reports of mortar shells landing near Erbil airport in Iraq on February 15, 2021.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said late Monday the United States was "outraged" by the attack.

Masrour Barzani, prime minister of the autonomous Kurdish region, condemned the attack "in the strongest terms".

Earlier a statement from the Interior Ministry of the Kurdistan Regional Government said several rockets had been launched toward the city.

Groups that some Iraqi officials say have links with the Iranian regime have claimed a series of rocket and roadside attacks against coalition forces, contractors working for the coalition and US installations including the embassy in Baghdad in recent months.

"This is a test of the new Biden administration to see what they can get away with", Knights said in a telephone interview. The embassy in Baghdad continues to operate with the ambassador and a small number of key staff.

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