Rocket hits site of foreign oil firms in Iraq’s Basra

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A rocket struck the site of the residential and operations headquarters of several global major oil companies, including US giant ExxonMobil, near Iraq’s southern city of Basra early on Wednesday. (AFP)
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Officials said the explosion will not affect oil exports. (File/AFP)
Updated 19 June 2019

Rocket hits site of foreign oil firms in Iraq’s Basra

  • The rocket hit Burjeisa residential and operations headquarters west of Basra
  • Police said the rocket was a short-range Katyusha missile

BASRA, Iraq: A rocket struck the site of the residential and operations headquarters of several global major oil companies, including US giant ExxonMobil, near Iraq’s southern city of Basra early on Wednesday, wounding three people, Iraq’s military said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. It came after two separate attacks in as many days on bases housing US military personnel in Iraq, as tension rose between the United States and Iran.

The rocket hit the Burjesia site west of the city, according to police and a statement released by the military. Police earlier said two Iraqi workers were wounded.

Iraq’s Security Media Cell said they will deal with whoever is trying to disturb the peace of the country in a statement.

“[We] will not allow to mess with Iraq's security and obligations, and will strike with the hands of the iron of all those who beg for it,” they said.

The US evacuated hundreds of diplomatic staff from its Baghdad embassy last month, citing unspecified threats from Iran against US interests in neighboring Iraq, where Tehran supports some Shiite militias.

Wednesday’s incident came just as Exxon staff who were also evacuated after the diplomats’ departure had begun to return to Basra.

A security source said Exxon was evacuating 21 foreign staff immediately by plane to Dubai. Oil officials said operations including exports from southern Iraq were not affected by the incident.

Other companies operating at the site include Royal Dutch Shell PLC and Italy’s Eni SpA, the oil officials said.

Royal Dutch Shell said that all its staff in Iraq are accounted for and its operations in the country are normal.

“We remain vigilant and continue to monitor the security situation and liaise with local authorities,” said a Shell spokesman in a statement to Reuters.

The rocket was a short-range Katyusha missile, the military said. Police said it landed 100 meters from the part of the site used as a residence and operations center by Exxon.

Burjesia is near the Zubair oilfield operated by Eni.

Washington has ramped up sanctions pressure on Iran in recent months and says it has sent additional forces to the region over tension with the Islamic Republic.

It blames Tehran for attacks on tankers in the Gulf of Oman last week. Tehran denies it was involved.

Both sides say they do not want war, but analysts warn such incidents could escalate violence in the region. 


Over 3 million virus cases reported in Mideast

Labourers, wearing protective face masks, disinfect the front of restaurant in Dubai's marina on March 16, 2020. (AFP)
Updated 31 October 2020

Over 3 million virus cases reported in Mideast

  • Labourers, wearing protective face masks, disinfect the front of restaurant in Dubai's marina on March 16, 2020

DUBAI: The number of reported coronavirus cases has gone over 3 million in the Middle East, an Associated Press count showed on Friday, with the true number likely even higher.
Across the Mideast, there have been over 75,000 deaths attributed to the virus by health authorities, the AP count relying on reported figures by individual countries shows.
There have been 2.5 million recoveries from the virus causing the COVID-19 illness.
In the Mideast, the hardest-hit nation remains Iran, which served as the initial epicenter of the virus in the region. In Iran alone, authorities say there have been over 600,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, with some 477,000 recoveries and 34,000 deaths. Yet even those numbers are believed to be low, Iranian officials say.

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Deaths have been reported in the Middle East region due to the coronavirus, according to health authorities.

In some war-torn nations, it remains difficult to know the scope of the pandemic as well. In Yemen for instance, it’s believed that the vast majority of the country’s cases have gone undiagnosed and untreated, and health workers have said only those who are near death are usually brought to hospitals.