New rocket attack in Baghdad, 6th in two weeks

Security forces close the bridge leading to the Green Zone during a demonstration, Baghdad, Oct. 26, 2019. (AP Photo)
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Updated 23 June 2020

New rocket attack in Baghdad, 6th in two weeks

  • Rocket slammed into Baghdad airport, landing near a complex where US soldiers and diplomats are housed
  • Since October, nearly three dozen attacks have targeted American interests in Iraq, including a range of military bases, the US embassy in Baghdad and US oil companies

BAGHDAD: A rocket slammed into the Baghdad airport on Monday, the Iraqi military said, landing near a complex where US soldiers and diplomats are housed.
The airport has been shut to commercial flights since mid-March in an effort to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, which has infected more than 20,000 in Iraq and cost over 1,100 lives.
“The rocket did not cause casualties or material damage,” the Iraqi military’s statement said.
The attack was not claimed, but Washington has blamed a host of similar incidents on Iran-backed fighters in Iraq.
Since October, nearly three dozen attacks have targeted American interests in Iraq, including a range of military bases, the US embassy in Baghdad and US oil companies.
Some of them have been claimed by mysterious factions that the US believes to be fronts for pro-Tehran armed groups.
The pace of attacks slowed significantly starting in March but picked back up over the last two weeks, coinciding with the launch of strategic talks between Washington and Baghdad.
A total of six rocket attacks since June 8 have targeted the US embassy, the Baghdad airport and a base further north where American and other foreign troops are based.
As part of the new strategic dialogue, Washington has already pledged to continue reducing in-country troop levels, which numbered about 5,200 last year.
But it has demanded Iraq take robust action against those behind the rockets.
Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhemi recently gathered his national security council to discuss the attacks, pledging to hold the perpetrators accountable.
Iraqi security forces regularly recover the rudimentary launchers from which the projectiles are fired but have yet to apprehend the perpetrators themselves.


Jets hit Libya’s Al-Watiya Air Base where Turkey may build base

An image grab taken from a video released on July 3, 2020, by the Turkish Defence Ministry shows Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar (C) greeting Libyan officials upon his arrival in Tripoli. (AFP)
Updated 06 July 2020

Jets hit Libya’s Al-Watiya Air Base where Turkey may build base

  • Turkish support was vital to the GNA in turning back the LNA offensive with advanced air defenses and drone strikes that targeted Khalifa’s supply lines and troop buildups

BENGHAZI: Warplanes struck overnight at an air base that was recently recaptured by Libya’s internationally recognized government from eastern forces with help from Turkey, a military source with the eastern forces and a resident nearby said.
The strikes were carried out by “unknown aircraft,” the military source with the Libyan National Army (LNA) of eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar said.
A resident at the nearby town of Zintan said explosions were heard from the direction of the base.
Al-Watiya’s recapture in May by the Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli marked the start of a sudden collapse of the LNA’s 14-month assault to seize the capital and its retreat along the coast to the new frontlines.
Turkish support was vital to the GNA in turning back the LNA offensive with advanced air defenses and drone strikes that targeted Khalifa’s supply lines and troop buildups.
A Turkish source said last month that Turkey was in talks with the GNA to establish two bases in Libya, one of them at Watiya, the most important air base in western Libya.
Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar was in Tripoli for meetings with the GNA on Friday and Saturday and Akar swore to do all that was necessary to help it, a Turkish Defense Ministry statement said.
Last month, the US said Russia had sent at least 14 MiG29 and Su-24 warplanes to an LNA base via Syria, where their Russian airforce markings were removed.
Turkish involvement in Libya has also angered France and Greece and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has warned of new sanctions on Ankara.
The GNA and LNA are now mobilizing forces at the new frontlines between the cities of Misrata and Sirte.