Missile hits Iraqi base with U.S. troops: military

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Kirkuk (Iraq) (AFP) – A missile struck an Iraqi base that hosts American troops in the remote Kirkuk province. The Iraqi military and a U.S. security source announced AFP on Thursday evening.

It was the last in a series of almost 20 missile attacks since the end of October on US troops deployed across the country and on the American embassy in Baghdad.

According to three different Iraqi security sources, the Katyusha rocket hit an open area on the K1 base around 8:45 p.m. local time (1745 GMT).

According to a statement by the Iraqi military, both US troops and the Iraqi federal police are stationed there, but have suffered no casualties.

The security forces were said to have found the launch pad from which the missile was fired. Another 11 missiles were still inside, but the perpetrators were on the run.

An Iraqi security source told AFP that the launch pad was found in a multi-ethnic area about three miles from the base.

It was the first attack on K1 since December 27 when a volley of around 30 rockets killed a US contractor there and triggered a dramatic escalation.

Washington accused the Kataeb Hezbollah, a persistent Iraqi military faction near Iran, of the missiles and retaliatory attacks that killed 25 of the group’s fighters.

Followers of the group then surrounded the US embassy in Baghdad and broke through its outer circumference in an unprecedented break.

Days later, a US drone attack at Baghdad Airport killed the Iranian pointman on Iraqi affairs, Qasem Soleimani, and his right-hand man, co-founder of Kataeb Hezbollah, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

In its outrage, the Iraqi parliament voted to drive all foreign forces out of the country, including around 5,200 U.S. troops deployed to help local forces repel remains of the Islamic State group.

Iran conducted its own strikes in response to Soleimani’s murder and fired a barrage of ballistic missiles at the extensive Ain al-Asad base in western Iraq on January 8.

The troops had previously warned and none were killed, but more than 100 have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries since then.

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