Rockets hit Iraq base with US troops; no word on casualties

A barrage of 17 rockets landed near a military base hosting US forces in northern Iraq on Friday but caused no injuries or major material damage, an Iraqi military statement said. (File/AFP)
Updated 09 November 2019

Rockets hit Iraq base with US troops; no word on casualties

  • Some hard-line Iraqi militias loyal to Iran have recently threatened to carry out attacks against Americans in the country
  • Mosul, which was largely destroyed during the war against Daesh, lies north of Baghdad and has not seen any anti-government protests

BAGHDAD: A barrage of Katyusha rockets targeted an Iraqi air base that houses American troops south of the city of Mosul on Friday, two security officials said. There was no immediate word of casualties from the attack.
The rocket fire appears to have originated in Mosul and struck the Iraqi army base in Qayyara, about 60 kilometers (38 miles) south of Mosul, where a US-led coalition is helping Iraqi forces battle remnants of Daesh. 
The Iraqi officials who spoke to The Associated Press did so on condition of anonymity under regulations.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility nor was it clear if any of the rockets struck the base.
Iraq announced victory over Daesh two years ago, but the extremist group is still active through sleeper cells and frequently mount attacks on Iraqi security forces.
Some hard-line Iraqi militias loyal to Iran have recently threatened to carry out attacks against Americans in the country. The US maintains about 5,000 troops in Iraq.
American forces withdrew from Iraq in 2011 but returned in 2014 at the invitation of the government to help battle Daesh after it seized vast areas in the north and west of the country, including Iraq's second largest city, Mosul. A US-led coalition provided crucial air support as Iraqi forces regrouped and drove Daesh out in a costly three-year campaign.
The attack on Friday came as large parts of Iraq, including the capital of Baghdad and Shiite-majority southern provinces, are engulfed in anti-government protests. Rockets have been fired near the US Embassy in the heavily fortified Green Zone in the Iraqi capital on several occasions recently.
Mosul, which was largely destroyed during the war against Daesh, lies north of Baghdad and has not seen any anti-government protests.


Syria’s Assad says ‘resistance’ will force US troops out

Updated 2 min 36 sec ago

Syria’s Assad says ‘resistance’ will force US troops out

  • Assad said US should remember the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and “Syria will not be an exception”
  • US officials said this week that Washington will leave about 600 troops in Syria to fight the Daesh group
DAMASCUS: Syrian President Bashar Assad said in remarks broadcast Friday that the American presence in Syria will lead to armed “resistance” that will eventually force the US troops to leave his country.
Assad spoke in an interview with Russia24 TV and Rossiya Segodnya news agency saying Americans should remember the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and that “Syria will not be an exception.”
US officials said this week that Washington will leave about 600 troops in Syria to fight the Daesh group. That followed President Donald Trump’s decision last month to withdraw the bulk of roughly 1,000 American troops from Syria, drawing bipartisan condemnation.
Earlier this month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Trump that he intended to carry out an operation to clear the Turkey-Syria border of Syrian Kurdish fighters who fought side-by-side with US troops in beating back Daesh fighters in northeast Syria. Ankara considers the Syrian Kurdish fighters terrorists linked to a Kurdish insurgency within Turkey.
After Turkey began an invasion on Oct. 9, capturing dozens of Syrian towns and villages and displacing tens of thousands of people, Kurdish fighters then turned to the Syrian government for protection.
Assad subsequently sent troops to areas near the Turkish border, under an agreement reached between Russia and Turkey.
“I have always said that an occupier cannot occupy a piece of land without having agents in that country, because it would be difficult for them to live in a completely hostile environment,” Assad said.
“The American presence in Syria will generate a military resistance which will exact losses among the Americans, and consequently force them to leave,” said Assad, whose troops are backed by Russian forces.
“Of course, we are not contemplating a Russian-American confrontation, this is self-evident, and it doesn’t serve neither our interests, nor the Russians nor international stability,” he said. “It is dangerous.”
Under another deal reached last month between Turkey and Russia, Syrian Kurdish forces withdrew from almost the entire northeastern border from the Euphrates River to the Iraqi border.
Russian and Syrian government forces began moving immediately to ensure the Kurdish fighters pull back 30 kilometers from the border, and Turkish and Russian troops began joint patrols in the area.
Assad said the Russian-Turkish agreement regarding the withdrawal of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces must be implemented.
“They need to withdraw because they provided the Turks with the pretext to implement their plan, which they have been dreaming of since the beginning of the war” in Syria eight years ago, Assad said.
He also criticized Kurdish groups seeking to set up an autonomous region inside Syria. “We shall never accept any separatist propositions under any circumstances,” he said.