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.


Lebanese donor hands Nazi artifacts to Israel, warns of anti-Semitism

Updated 55 min 57 sec ago

Lebanese donor hands Nazi artifacts to Israel, warns of anti-Semitism

  • Abdallah Chatila spent about 600,000 euros ($660,000) for eight objects connected to Hitler
  • He said he had felt compelled to take the objects off the market

JERUSALEM: wealthy Lebanese-Swiss businessman said Sunday he had bought Adolf Hitler’s top hat and other Nazi artifacts to give them to Jewish groups and prevent them falling into the hands of a resurgent far-right.
Abdallah Chatila said he had felt compelled to take the objects off the market because of the rising anti-Semitism, populism and racism he was witnessing in Europe.
He spent about 600,000 euros ($660,000) for eight objects connected to Hitler, including the collapsible top hat, in a November 20 sale at a Munich auction house, originally planning to burn them all.
But he then decided to give them to the Keren Hayesod association, an Israeli fundraising group, which has resolved to hand them to Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial center.
Chatila told a Jerusalem press conference it had been a “very easy” decision to purchase the items when he saw the “potentially lethal injustice that those artifacts would go to the wrong hands.”
“I felt I had no choice but to actually try to help the cause,” he added.
“What happened in the last five years in Europe showed us that anti-Semitism, that populism, that racism is going stronger and stronger, and we are here to fight it and show people we’re not scared.
“Today — with the fake news, with the media, with the power that people could have with the Internet, with social media — somebody else could use that small window” of time to manipulate the public, he said.
He said he had worried the Nazi-era artifacts could be used by neo-Nazi groups or those seeking to stoke anti-Semitism and racism in Europe.
“That’s why I felt I had to do it,” he said of his purchase.
The items, still in Munich, are to be eventually delivered to Yad Vashem, where they will be part of a collection of Nazi artifacts crucial to countering Holocaust denial, but not be put on regular display, said Avner Shalev, the institute’s director.
Chatila also met with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and visited Yad Vashem.
Chatila was born in Beirut into a family of Christian jewellers and moved to Switzerland at the age of two.
Now among Switzerland’s richest 300 people, he supports charities and causes, including many relating to Lebanon and Syrian refugees.
The auction was brought to Chatila’s attention by the European Jewish Association, which has sought to sway public opinion against the trade in Nazi memorabilia.
Rabbi Mehachem Margolin, head of the association, said Chatila’s surprise act had raised attention to such auctions.
He said it was a powerful statement against racism and xenophobia, especially coming from a non-Jew of Lebanese origin.
Lebanon and Israel remain technically at war and Lebanese people are banned from communication with Israelis.
“There is no question that a message that comes from you is 10 times, or 100 times stronger than a message that comes from us,” Margolin told Chatila.
The message was not only about solidarity among people, but also “how one person can make such a huge change,” Margolin said.
“There’s a place for optimism.”