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.


Iranian regime’s strategy of deepening suffering of Yemeni people condemned

An Arab coalition soldier patrolling the Saudi border with Yemen. (File/AFP)
Updated 30 March 2020

Iranian regime’s strategy of deepening suffering of Yemeni people condemned

  • Houthis ‘not serious about peace push as their attack came shortly after they welcomed UN call for truce’

AL-MUKALLA: The internationally recognized government of Yemen has strongly condemned Houthi ballistic missile attacks on Saudi Arabia on Saturday night, saying that the Houthis sought to pressure the Kingdom to halt its military support to their Yemeni opponents.

“We strongly condemn the cowardly terrorist attack by the Houthi militia on Riyadh and Jizan,” Yemen’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
The government said that the Iran-backed Houthis were not serious about making peace in Yemen as their attack came shortly after they welcomed a UN call for a truce in Yemen.
“This is Iran’s continued strategy for deepening the suffering of the Yemeni people,” the statement said.
In the port city of Aden, Salem Al-Khanbashi, Yemen’s deputy prime minister, linked Houthi missile attacks to fresh territorial gains by the government backed by Arab coalition warplanes, noting that the Houthis wanted the Kingdom to stop its military support, which blocks their advances on the ground.
“This is a natural reaction to the victories in Nehim, Serwah and Jawf,” Al-Khanbashi said, referring to raging battlefields where government forces battle major Houthi offensives.
Military commanders and officials say that massive air support and military logistics from the Saudi-led coalition helped Yemen’s army troops and allied tribesmen push back Houthi attacks on Marib’s Kawfal military base and recapture areas in the northern province of Jawf.
Hundreds of Houthi fighters have been killed over the past couple of months in airstrikes by the coalition’s warplanes.
“The Houthis targeted the Kingdom since it’s the leader of the coalition. The coalition has contributed to the successes on the ground,” Al-Khanbashi said.
When the Houthis supported the UN call for a cease-fire to prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, many Yemeni officials questioned their stand, arguing that Houthi actions on the ground and their breaches of the previous deal showed that they would not stick to their word.
“This is an untrusted group. They have not put into place arrangements related to the Stockholm Agreement such as releasing prisoners and lifting their siege,” Al-Khanbashi said.
Yemeni officials also think the Houthis positively responded to the truce calls to get a commendation from the UN.
Experts also believe that the Houthis shelled the Saudi cities with ballistic missiles to warn the Kingdom against maintaining its support of the Yemeni government.
Yasser Al-Yafae, a political analyst based in Aden, told Arab News that Saudi military support had played an important role in shoring-up government forces that fight off Houthi attacks on the central city of Marib.
“They want to force the Kingdom to stop airstrikes that obstruct their continuous push on Marib,” Al-Yafae said.
Houthi missile attacks on the Kingdom also boosted calls by Yemeni military commanders for intensifying military pressure on the Houthis on all battlefields, including the western city of Hodeida, instead of seeking peace from the rebels. Houthis have exploited the truce in the
western city of Hodeida for regrouping and escalating attacks on other fronts, Yemeni officers said.
Rafeq Doumah, a military officer from the pro-government Tehama Brigades in Hodeida, said that the Houthi missile attack was proof that the Houthis did not want peace, or respected any agreement, calling for the resumption of a military offensive on Hodeida city that was stopped following the Stockholm deal.
“The only solution (is that army) troops march toward Hodeida and Saada,” he said.