Situation Report: US forces targeted in latest rocket attack in Iraq

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On May 24, a rocket attack struck the Ain Al-Asad Airbase located in Western Iraq. The base hosts U.S. military personnel and other international forces. The official military Spokesperson for Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) Col. Wayne Marotto tweeted that “At 1335 local time, Ain Al-Asad Air Base (AAAB) was attacked by one rocket round. No injuries reported. Damage is being assessed.”

One day prior to this attack, the group that calls itself “Iraq’s Resistance Coordination Commission” (IRCC), threatened to ramp up missions targeting U.S. personnel in response to the fourth round of U.S.-Iraq strategic dialogue talks that took place on April 7. The IRCC published a statement condemning the Iraqi government for not securing a timetable for the full withdrawal of U.S. troops in the country.

“By rejecting to exit its forces [from Iraq], the US administration has sent us a clear message that they only understand the language of force. Therefore, the Iraqi resistance confirms its full readiness to carry out its legitimate, national and legal duty to achieve this goal (force them to withdraw).”

The statement is referring to the outcome of the latest round of U.S.-Iraq talks, which did not include specific dates regarding the pull-out of American troops. The talks, which began last June under the Trump administration, covered a wide range of issues including power, elections, trade, and climate. However, one significant subject was not broached—Iranian-backed militias.

Since the January 2020 U.S.-directed killing of top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, Iranian-backed militants in Iraq have launched continuous drone and rocket attacks targeting American personnel on the ground. Two of the most prominent militant factions, Kataib Hezbollah and the Badr Organization, help lead the IRCC. Although the IRCC has not claimed responsibility for the latest rocket strike, the group is likely the culprit.

The IRCC made its first public statement in October 2020, when its spokesperson Mohammed Mohi announced that a group of Iran-backed militias agreed to a cease-fire on the condition that the U.S. present specific timelines regarding troops in Iraq. In January 2021, the U.S. reduced its troops in Iraq from 3,500 to 2,500.  

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