Rockets hit US-led coalition base in Iraq [Updated]

The attack reportedly injured American and Iraqi personnel.
Nicholas Slayton Avatar
Al Asad Air Base
FILE: Airmen conduct a routine flight line patrol with U.S. flags flying from their Mine Resistant Ambush Protected-All Terrain Vehicles at Al Asad Air Base on July 4, 2021. (Sgt. 1st Class Christie Smith/U.S. Army National Guard)

A series of rockets and ballistic missiles were launched at the al-Asad Air Base in Iraq, injuring American and Iraqi troops on site according to multiple reports. 

According to U.S. Central Command, the attack took place Saturday evening, local time. Agence France-Press reports that more than a dozen rockets and missiles were fired at the base in Iraq’s western Anbar Province. Although 13 were shot down, two hit the base, an Iraqi police official told AFP. CENTCOM confirmed that air defenses took out “most” of the missiles, but did not say how many hit the base.

“Damage assessments are ongoing,” CENTCOM said in its statement on the attack. “A number of U.S. personnel are undergoing evaluation for traumatic brain injuries.”

Reuters reported that American personnel suffered minor injuries from the attack. One Iraqi security forces member was seriously injured. Reuters reports that the rockets were fired from within Iraq. CENTCOM did not provide details on the origin of the attack.

The Islamic Resistance in Iraq, a loose coalition of pro-Iran Iraqi militias, has claimed credit online for the attack, although the Iraqi and American governments have not named any group as the aggressor. 

The al-Asad Air Base is an Iraqi installation, but is also used by American and coalition forces in the county. The United States currently has approximately 2,500 troops currently operating in Iraq.

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Today’s strike isn’t the first time the base has been targeted by armed groups. In January 2020 a barrage of Iranian missiles hit the base, done in response to the assassination of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, head of the commander of the Quds force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force (and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a top commander of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces). Despite then-President Trump claiming there were no casualties, the Pentagon later admitted that more than 100 service members suffered traumatic brain injuries from the attack. 

More recently, al-Asad is one of several American or American-utilized installations in Iraq and Syria to be targeted by rockets and missiles in the last four months. The attacks came after the Israeli war in Gaza started in October, and so far dozens of American troops have been injured. The U.S. has launched retaliatory attacks in response, including one in Baghdad. The latter drew anger from the country’s prime minister.  

The attack on the al-Asad base comes only four days after Iran launched missiles into Iraq and Syria, targeting what it claimed were Israel intelligence posts. Iran fired ballistic missiles into the Iraqi Kurdistan capital of Erbil as well, saying it was targeting ISIS fighters in retaliation for a terrorist bombing in Iran this month that killed more than 100 people at a memorial for Soleimani. 

This is a developing story. 

Update: 1/20/2024: This story has been updated with details and comments from U.S. Central Command.

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