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.
 


Iran warns of lengthy ‘new way of life’ as virus deaths rise

An Iranian army soldier walks through a temporary hospital in Tehran, Iran, Thursday, March 26, 2020. (AP)
Updated 30 March 2020

Iran warns of lengthy ‘new way of life’ as virus deaths rise

  • Without an official lockdown in place, the government has repeatedly urged Iranians to stay home “as much as possible”

TEHRAN: President Hassan Rouhani has warned that “the new way of life” in Iran was likely to be prolonged, as its declared death toll from the novel coronavirus rose to 2,640.
Iran is one of the countries worst-hit by the virus, which first originated in China.
Iran announced its first infection cases on Feb. 19, but a senior health official has acknowledged that the virus was likely to have already reached Iran in January.
At his daily news briefing, health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said 123 more people in Iran had died from the virus in the past 24 hours.
He reported 2,901 new cases of COVID-19 infection, bringing the overall number of officially confirmed cases to 38,309.
According to the official, 12,391 of those hospitalized have recovered and 3,467 are in “critical” condition.
“We must prepare to live with this virus until a treatment or vaccine is discovered, which has not yet happened to date,” President Hassan Rouhani said in a Cabinet meeting.
“The new way of life we have adopted” is to everyone’s benefit, he said, adding that “these changes will likely have to stay in place for some time.”
After weeks of refraining from imposing lockdown or quarantine measures, Tehran decided Wednesday to ban all intercity travel until at least April 8.
Without an official lockdown in place, the government has repeatedly urged Iranians to stay home “as much as possible.” Schools and universities in some provinces were closed in late February and the measure was later extended to the whole country.
After Rouhani’s warning, the reopening of schools following this year’s new year holidays of March 19 to April 3 appears unlikely.

FASTFACT

Iran announced its first infection cases on Feb. 19, but a senior health official has acknowledged that the virus was likely to have already reached Iran in January

On a positive note, Rouhani said he had been told by top health experts and doctors that “in some provinces we have passed the peak (of the epidemic) and are on a downward trajectory.”
Several Iranian government officials and notable figures have been infected by the new coronavirus, some of whom have died.
The most recent case of infection was Mohammed-Reza Khatami, brother of former president Mohammad Khatami and an ex-deputy speaker of parliament.
He is currently hospitalized.
Iraj Harirchi, a deputy health minister who tested positive for the virus in late February, has returned to public life and appeared on state television to emphasize safety precautions.