Security

Rockets hit near Baghdad airport: Iraq military

By AFP

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This picture taken on March 13th shows damaged military vehicles in the aftermath of US military airstrikes at a militarised zone in the Jurf al-Sakhr area in Iraq's Babylon province (south of the capital) controlled by Kataib Hizbullah. [AFP]

Three rockets hit near Baghdad airport overnight without causing any damage, Iraq's security forces said Tuesday (June 16th), marking the fourth such attack in just over a week.

A statement from the Iraqi military said the Katyusha-type projectiles were fired from the south-western edges of Baghdad, where security forces found more rockets set up on wooden platforms.

It follows a string of similar incidents, including a rocket attack on June 13th that hit an Iraqi base north of Baghdad where US-led coalition troops are based.

On June 8th, two rockets struck the grounds of the Baghdad airport complex and an unguided rocket hit near the US embassy in Iraq's high-security Green Zone two days later.

Such attacks are rarely claimed, but Washington has blamed pro-Iran factions in Iraq, primarily Kataib Hizbullah.

Since late 2019, more than 30 rocket attacks have targeted Iraqi installations hosting foreign diplomats or troops.

Attacks spike amid improved ties

Tensions reached boiling point in January when the US killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in a drone strike in Baghdad.

In late March, the tensions eased and the pace of rocket attacks significantly slowed -- but it spiked again last week as the US and Iraq prepared for bilateral talks.

The strategic dialogue launched on June 11th aims to set a framework for the US troop presence in the country and to boost economic and cultural ties.

As part of the talks, Washington has already pledged to continue reducing in-country troop levels, which numbered about 5,200 last year.

Iraq, meanwhile, vowed to "protect the military personnel" operating on its territory as part of the US-led coalition fighting the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS).

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