Rocket Attack on Air Base North of Baghdad Wounds 4 Iraqi Servicemen

Iraqi security officials say four Iraqi servicemen were wounded on Sunday by a rocket attack on an air base just north of Baghdad, where American trainers and a corporation that provides maintenance for F-16 aircraft are situated.

At least six rockets were fired in the weekend attack. Officials say some projectiles hit a restaurant within the Al Balad air base, located roughly 50 miles north of Baghdad. No group has claimed responsibility for the incident and no information about U.S. casualties has been released.

The Iraqi army confirmed the incident in a statement that claimed eight rockets were involved in the attack. It came just days after Iran launched ballistic missiles at two bases in Iraq that held U.S. troops, causing zero casualties.

Newsweek reached out to the Department of Defense for additional information but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Military sources told the AFP news agency that a majority of the U.S. airmen at the location had already vacated the area at the time of the attack. In addition to the restaurant being hit, some shells also struck the airbase's gate and runway.

"Three Iraqi soldiers, who were on guard at the airbase gate, were injured as a result of the shelling," said Colonel Mohammed Khalil, a member of law enforcement in the province of Saladin.

The attack comes amid escalating tensions between America and Iran, which were prompted after a rocket killed a U.S. contractor at an Iraqi base. Washington has blamed Iran-backed militias for the attack.

President Donald Trump ordered a U.S. drone strike that killed Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, and two Iraq militia officials earlier this month.

"At the direction of the president, the U.S. military has taken decisive defensive action to protect U.S. personnel abroad by killing Qassem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization," the Department of Defense said in a statement.

In retaliation, Iranian forces launched missiles at numerous Iraqi military installations housing U.S. forces, causing no casualties. Pentagon officials and an Iraqi intelligence official told Newsweek that Ayn al-Asad Air Base and other sites in Kurdista's Erbil were hit in the attack. Later, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying in a statement that they were orchestrated as "revenge for the brutal assassination" of Soleimani near Baghdad International Airport.

Since then, both the U.S. and Iran have wound back from further escalating tensions.

Balad Air Base
In this handout image provided by the U.S. Air Force, Tech Sgt. Brian Jones, of the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing public affairs, walks near a row of Iraqi MiG 21s and MiG 23s in a "MiG Graveyard" August 26, 2004 in Balad Air Base, Iraq. Jason Lake/Getty
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