- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Two U.S. service members were injured Wednesday in a rocket attack on Iraq’s Ain al-Asad Air Base, officials said, with the attack also reportedly damaging homes and a mosque in the area.

At least 14 rockets were fired at the base Wednesday morning, said Col. Wayne Marotto, spokesperson for Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S.-led coalition to defeat the Islamic State. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but Iran-backed militias in Iraq and Syria have been behind numerous rocket assaults on American personnel in recent months.

“Each attack … undermines the authority of Iraqi institutions, the rule of law and Iraqi national sovereignty,” Col. Marotto said in a Twitter post.

Iraqi officials said that the Erbil airport also came under fire.

“Once again, the enemies of Iraq are intrusive and targeting the country’s security, sovereignty and the safety of our citizens through a new terrorist attack on Erbil airport and the Ain al-Assad AB that belong” to Iraqi forces, Iraqi Ministry of Defense spokesperson Yehia Rasool said in a Twitter post.

The rocket attacks come less than two weeks after President Biden ordered U.S. airstrikes on the Iraqi Shiite militias Kata’ib Hezbollah and Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada, which operate in both Syria and Iraq with support from Iran. U.S. officials say the groups are responsible for at least five drone attacks against U.S. forces since April, along with a host of rocket barrages.

The al-Asad base came under its most serious attack in January 2020, when dozens of American service members suffered brain injuries during the assault. The attack was retaliation for a U.S. airstrike days earlier that killed top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, along with a top Iraqi commander of the militia forces.

• Ben Wolfgang can be reached at bwolfgang@washingtontimes.com.

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