Roadside blast hits global coalition troops in Iraq

Roadside blast hits global coalition troops in Iraq

by AFP Staff Writers

Arbil, Iraq (AFP) Nov 9, 2023

An explosive detonated as a convoy of American and other troops belonging to the anti-jihadist coalition passed through northern Iraq on Thursday, a US official told AFP.

The forces encountered an IED (improvised explosive device) blast near the Mosul dam, the military official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity. No casualties were reported.

This is the latest in a growing series of attacks on US personnel in the region, following the outbreak of the war between Israel and Hamas on October 7.

US and coalition forces in Iraq and Syria have been targeted by drone or rocket attacks at least 40 times since October 17, injuring dozens of US personnel, according to a tally given by a US official.

Authorities in the autonomous Iraqi region of Kurdistan said Thursday evening that a drone attack targeted the Harir military airport in Arbil province, causing a fire in a fuel depot.

The coalition had troops at the site until October 20, according to a statement from the counter-terrorism services in Iraqi Kurdistan, in northern Iraq.

The coalition did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the incident.

In the night of Wednesday into Thursday, “two drones” targeted a military airport where coalition troops of the US-led anti-jihadist coalition were based, the service said.

There were no injuries, according to the local authorities.

The attacks came around midnight, it said, without specifying whether the drones had been shot down. Photos accompanying the statement showed metallic debris on the ground.

Most of the recent attacks have been claimed by a group known as “Islamic Resistance in Iraq”, according to Telegram channels affiliated with Iraqi factions close to Tehran.

Around 2,500 American troops are deployed in Iraq and another 900 in Syria, as part of the international anti-jihadist coalition that was established in 2014.

In Iraq, the coalition says its role is limited to advising and supporting local counterparts.

In a visit to Baghdad on Sunday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the attacks, which Washington has linked back to Iran, were “totally unacceptable”.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, who was appointed by pro-Iran parties, has condemned the attacks and promised investigations to uncover the perpetrators.

On Wednesday US warplanes carried out a strike on an Iran-linked weapons storage facility in eastern Syria, in response to attacks against American personnel, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said.

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Blinken on surprise visit to Baghdad: Iraq

Baghdad (AFP) Nov 5, 2023

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken made a surprise visit to Baghdad on Sunday following a trip to the occupied West Bank earlier in the day.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohamed Shia al-Sudani met Blinken, the premier’s office said, with the two expected to discuss the risks of escalation in Israel’s war with Hamas.

Blinken’s visit – which came after a brief stop in Cyprus to discuss a possible maritime aid route to Gaza – was not announced in advance for security reasons.

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