Rockets hit military base hosting US troops near Baghdad airport

Four Katyusha rockets struck a military base next to Baghdad International Airport, above. (AFP file photo)
Updated 10 December 2019

Rockets hit military base hosting US troops near Baghdad airport

  • Security forces found a rocket launcher and several rockets in a search of the area

BAGHDAD: Several rockets slammed into an Iraqi military complex that hosts US forces next to Baghdad International Airport on Monday, wounding six Iraqi troops, the military said.
Security forces found launchers with rockets that had not been fired properly, indicating a larger attack was planned, a military statement said.
It is the latest in an uptick in rocket attacks targeting either Iraqi bases where American troops are located or the US embassy in Baghdad.
US defense officials have blamed several on Iran-backed factions in Iraq.
Security sources told AFP that the wounded in Monday’s attack belong to Iraq’s Counter-Terrorism Service, an elite unit that was created and trained by US forces.
Two of them are in critical condition, the sources said.
The military complex also hosts a small group of US soldiers and American diplomats.
There have been at least nine attacks against US targets in Iraq in the span of six weeks.
There have been no claims of responsibility and no US forces have been wounded.
Security sources have linked at least one last week to Kataib Hezbollah, a powerful Shiite faction close to Tehran and blacklisted by Washington.
Iran holds vast sway in Iraq, especially among the more hardline elements of the Hashed Al-Shaabi, a security force largely made up of Shiite militia.
A US defense official said the rocket attacks made the Hashed a bigger security threat to American troops in Iraq than the Daesh group, the militant movement which the US has vowed to help Baghdad wipe out.
On Friday the United States imposed sanctions on three senior Hashed figures.
Tensions between Iran and the US have soared since Washington pulled out of a landmark nuclear agreement with Tehran last year and reimposed crippling sanctions.
Baghdad — which is close to both countries and whose many security forces have been trained by either the US or Iran — is worried about being caught in the middle.
US officials say they are considering plans to deploy between 5,000 and 7,000 additional troops to the region to counter its arch-foe Iran.

Lebanon security forces face off against protesters near parliament building in Beirut

Updated 10 min 15 sec ago

Lebanon security forces face off against protesters near parliament building in Beirut

  • 75 protesters have been injured
  • The latest clashes this week come after recent cooling of tensions in Lebanese capital

BEIRUT: Security personnel fired tear gas and water cannons at protesters armed with little more than tree branches and sign posts in Beirut on Saturday in clashes near Lebanon’s parliament.

According to a Red Cross statement issued on Saturday, 75 protesters have been injured during the standoff with security forces.

The latest clashes come after a cooling of tensions in the Lebanese capital, after largely peaceful protests which broke out across the country in October over the state of the economy turned increasingly violent, but people have filled the streets again this week.

They are furious at a ruling elite that has steered the country toward its worst economic crisis in decades.

Police wielding batons and firing tear gas have wounded dozens of people at protests in recent days. Anger at the banks — which have curbed people’s access to their savings — started to boil over, with protesters smashing bank facades and ATMs on Tuesday night.

Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces said on Saturday that police in Beirut were being “violently and directly” confronted at one of the entrances to the parliament. In a tweet, it called on people to leave the area for their own safety.

Witnesses said they saw young men hurling stones and flower pots toward riot police, while protesters tried to push through an entrance to a heavily barricaded district of central Beirut, which includes the parliament.

Hundreds of protesters marched and chanted against in the political class in other parts of the capital. A large banner at one of the rallies read: “If the people go hungry, they will eat their rulers.”

The unrest, which stemmed from anger at corruption and the rising cost of living, forced Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri to resign in October. Feuding politicians have since failed to agree a new cabinet or rescue plan.

The Lebanese pound has lost nearly half its value, while dollar shortages have driven up prices and confidence in the banking system has collapsed.

(With Reuters)