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Rockets hit Ain al-Asad military base housing US forces in western Iraq; no casualties reported

US soldiers stand at the site of a retaliatory missile strike by Iran at Ain al-Asad Airbase in Anbar, western Iraq, on January 13, 2020. (Photo by Reuters)

An airbase in Iraq’s western province of Anbar, where American military forces and trainers are stationed, has reportedly come under attack by a barrage of rockets.

An Iraqi security source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Arabic-language al-Sumaria television network that three Katyusha rockets targeted the vicinity of Ain al-Asad Air Base, located about 160 kilometers (100 miles) west of the capital Baghdad, on Monday afternoon.

He added that there were no casualties as a result of the rocket attack on the military base.

“At approximately 2:45 PM local time (1145 GMT), Ain al-Assad Air Base was attacked by three rockets. The rockets landed on the base perimeter. There are no injuries and damage is being assessed,” Colonel Wayne Marotto, spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, wrote in a post published on his official Twitter page on Monday.

Meanwhile, Sabereen News, a Telegram news channel associated with Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units – better known by the Arabic name Hashd al-Sha’abi –, reported that eight 107mm rockets had targeted Ain al-Asad Air Base, and four of the projectiles had landed inside the military installation.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet, which is the latest in a series of assaults that have targeted US occupation forces over the past few months.

The attacks come amid growing anti-US sentiment, which has intensified since last year's assassination of top Iranian anti-terror commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad.

General Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), and his Iraqi trenchmate Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy head of the Popular Mobilization Units, were targeted along with their companions on January 3, 2020 in a terror drone strike authorized by former US president Donald Trump near Baghdad International Airport.

Two days after the attack, Iraqi lawmakers approved a bill that requires the government to end the presence of all foreign military forces led by the US in the country.

On January 8, 2020, the IRGC targeted Ain al-Asad after launching a wave of attacks to retaliate the assassination of General Soleimani.

According to the Pentagon, more than 100 American forces suffered “traumatic brain injuries” during the counterstrike on the base. The IRGC, however, says Washington uses the term to mask the number of the Americans who perished during the retaliation.

The US Department of State said on June 10 it was offering a reward of up to $3 million for information on attacks against American forces in Iraq.

On April 8, Iraq and the US said they had agreed on the eventual withdrawal of US “combat” troops from Iraq, and that the two sides would hold talks to work out the timing.

The mission of US forces is now allegedly focused on “training” Iraqi troops to fight Daesh, but American troops target popular anti-terror fighters from time to time.

Iraqi resistance groups have warned that they will treat the American troops as occupying forces and take up arms against them if they refuse to leave their country.

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