World US ‘assessing’ responsibility, response over Iraq rocket attack
Amid scars of war, Iraqi archbishop readies for pope
From Mosul's rubble-strewn streets to ancient churches at Karamlesh, badly damaged by the Islamic State group, Archbishop Najeeb Michaeel is preparing for the first-ever papal visit to Iraq. Amid the cleanup and reconstruction, the priest has ensured some scars of war from IS's brutal campaign remain -- a broken chalice, a smashed cross on a church bell tower -- to remember the horrors the Christians of Iraq's Nineveh plains have survived. "WeAmid the cleanup and reconstruction, the priest has ensured some scars of war from IS's brutal campaign remain -- a broken chalice, a smashed cross on a church bell tower -- to remember the horrors the Christians of Iraq's Nineveh plains have survived.
A United States contractor died Wednesday when at least 10 rockets slammed into an airbase housing US and other coalition troops in western Iraq and the US is assessing whether a further response is warranted, according to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.
“We are still assessing the impact of this latest rocket attack, including determining precise attribution,” Psaki said at a daily press briefing.
Decades after the Gulf War, Iraq’s youth view oil as a curse
Iraq’s youth protesters are demanding an end to corruption in the oil industry 30 years after the Gulf War.The call to specifically end corruption in Iraq’s oil industry quickly became one of the biggest battle cries among demonstrators.
Psaki responded to questions about planned action by saying the recent bombing by the US of Iran-aligned militias “was calculated proportionate and fully covered by legal authorities.”
“That will be our model, moving forward,” she added. “If we assess a further response is warranted, we will take action.”
President Joe Biden was briefed on the attack earlier Wednesday, Psaki said.
Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said the contractor “suffered a cardiac episode while sheltering” and died shortly afterwards. He said there were no service members injured and all are accounted for. British and Danish troops are also among those stationed at the base.
The rockets struck Ain al-Asad airbase in Anbar province early in the morning, US-led coalition spokesperson Colonel Wayne Marotto said. Kirby said that the rockets were fired from east of the base, and that counter-rocket defensive systems were used to defend forces at the base.
Turkey summons Iran envoy over remarks on Iraq operations
Turkey says the PKK presence in Iraq is a national security threat and it is Baghdad’s responsibility to take action.Ambassador Mohammad Farazmand was called in to Turkey’s foreign ministry after Iran’s ambassador to Iraq made the comments about Ankara’s cross-border military offensive against Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) fighters based in northern Iraq.
The attack has yet to be attributed, but there are suspicions Iran-backed forces are responsible.
It was the first attack since the US struck Iran-aligned militia targets along the Iraq-Syria border last week, killing one militiaman and stoking fears of another cycle of tit-for-tat attacks as happened more than a year ago.
Biden faced criticism over the strike in eastern Syria last week, with critics saying he adopted the same position as his predecessor, former President Donald Trump. The attacks come as the US and Iran are attempting to re-enter a nuclear agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear weapons capabilities in exchange for sanctions relief.
The Ain al-Asad base was struck by Iran with a barrage of missiles in January of last year in retaliation for the killing of top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani. Dozens of US service members suffered concussions in that strike.
One dead in rocket attack on Iraq base hosting US troops
At least 10 rockets slammed into a military base in western Iraq hosting US-led coalition troops on Wednesday, security sources said, leaving one civilian contractor dead. The attack on the sprawling Ain al-Assad base in Iraq's western desert comes after several weeks of escalating US-Iran tensions on Iraqi soil -- and just two days before Pope Francis's historic visit. Ain al-Assad hosts both Iraqi forces and US-led coalition troops helping fight the Islamic State group, as well as the unmanned drones the coalition uses to surveil jihadist sleeper cells.
The Iraqi military released a statement saying that Wednesday’s attack did not cause significant losses and that security forces had found the launch pad used for the rockets — a truck. Video of the site shows a burning truck in a desert area.
Denmark said coalition forces at the base were helping to bring stability and security to the country.
“Despicable attacks against Ain al-Asad base in #Iraq are completely unacceptable,” Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod tweeted. The Danish armed forces said two Danes who were at the base at the time of the attack are unharmed.
Marotto, the coalition spokesperson, said the Iraqi security forces were leading an investigation into the attack.
US troops in Iraq significantly decreased their presence in the country last year and withdrew from several Iraqi bases to consolidate chiefly in Ain al-Asad, Baghdad and Erbil.
The attack comes two days before Pope Francis is scheduled to visit the country despite concerns about security and the coronavirus pandemic. The much-anticipated trip will include stops in Baghdad, southern Iraq and the northern city of Erbil.
Pope to visit Iraq regions once held by IS group .
The Roman Catholic leader will also celebrate Mass at an event expected to attract 10,000 people.Militants overran the region in 2014, destroying historic churches and looting. Christians have been returning there since IS was defeated in 2017.