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Attacks target bases hosting forces in Iraq and Syria

US forces have 2,500 troops deployed in Iraq

By AFP - Jul 07,2021 - Last updated at Jul 07,2021

This file photo taken on July 9, 2017, shows smoke billowing following an air strike by US-led int'l coalition forces targeting the Daesh terror group in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul (AFP photo)

BAGHDAD — Rocket and drone attacks on Wednesday targeted bases in Iraq and Syria hosting US forces that are part of an international coalition fighting the Daesh terror group.

Fourteen rockets were fired at an air base hosting American troops in Iraq's western province of Anbar, causing minor injuries to two personnel, the US-led coalition said.

It was the latest in a spate of attacks on US military and diplomatic facilities in Iraq, blamed on pro-Iranian armed groups within a state-sponsored paramilitary force.

US forces, who have 2,500 troops deployed in Iraq as part of the anti-Daesh coalition, have been targeted almost 50 times this year in the country.

A Shite militant group called Revenge of Al Muhandis Brigade claimed responsibility and vowed to defeat the "brutal occupation", according to the US-based SITE intelligence group which monitors extremist groups.

The militant group is named after Abu Mahdi Al Muhandis of Iraq's Hashed Al Shaabi paramilitary alliance, who was killed in a US drone strike early last year along with the revered Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, SITE said.

Late last month, the US carried out deadly air strikes against pro-Iran fighters in both Iraq and Syria.

On Wednesday, the Ain Al Assad base was attacked by 14 rockets that "landed on the base and perimeter," coalition spokesman Wayne Marotto wrote on Twitter.

"Two personnel sustained minor injuries," he said, adding that the attack also damaged local homes and a mosque.

Iraqi security forces said the rocket launcher had been hidden inside a truck carrying bags of flour.

US forces on Monday night shot down an armed drone above their embassy in Baghdad, according to Iraqi security officials.

American defence systems fired rockets into the air in the capital, said AFP reporters, with Iraqi security sources saying the salvos had taken out an explosive-laden drone.

Just hours earlier, rockets had also been fired towards Ain Al Assad.

Across the border in Syria, where pro-Iran fighters have fought alongside the Damascus regime in the decade-old civil war, Kurdish-led forces also reported attempted attacks near a coalition base.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces said they repelled drone attacks near the base in the Omar oil field in the country’s east, in the second such operation in days.

“Our frontline forces against IS [Daesh] and coalition forces in the area of the Omar oil field dealt with drone attacks,” it said, adding that the drones had caused no damage.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor with sources inside Syria, said pro-Iran militias had probably launched the drones from a rural area outside the town of Al Mayadeen southwest of the oil field.

It was the second such attack in days, after the SDF reported “two unidentified rocket-propelled grenades landed on the western side of the Al Omar oil field” late Sunday, which had caused no casualties.

Pro-Iranian militias also fired several shells at Al Omar on Monday last week, causing damage but no casualties, the observatory said.

The United States had launched air strikes the previous night against three targets it said were used by pro-Iran groups in eastern Syria and western Iraq.

The observatory said at least five “Iran-backed Iraqi militia fighters” were killed in the strikes on the Syrian side of the border.

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