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12 Jan 2020 | 11:59 AM UTC

Iraq: Multiple rockets hit Balad Air Base January 12 /update 16

At least seven rockets strike Balad Air Base January 12; four Iraqi soldiers wounded

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Event

At least seven rockets struck Balad Air Base (Saladin province), host to US military personnel, on Sunday, January 12. According to security officials, four Iraqi soldiers were wounded in the attack. Some of the shells reportedly hit the runway of the air base, while another shell struck the gate. As of Sunday evening (local time), no group has claimed responsibility for the incident.

Additional attacks targeting facilities hosting US forces are possible over the near term; retaliatory US strikes are also possible in the region over the coming days.

Context

The US Department of Defense released a statement on January 3 claiming responsibility for an airstrike targeting and killing Qasem Soleimani, the commander of Iran's Quds Force, near Baghdad International Airport (BGW) the same day. According to the statement, Soleimani was "actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region." Notably, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), was also killed in the strike. Tensions remain high in the region.

Advice

Individuals in Baghdad and across Iraq are advised to closely monitor developments, avoid the affected area and related demonstration sites, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments.

The security environment in Iraq remains complex. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to all travel.