US fire mission at Qayyarah West Airfield, Iraq 100919 CREDIT US Dpt Defense
Iraq

US-Led Coalition Leaves Iraqi Base After Rocket Attack

The pullout from Qayara airfield comes after two rockets hit a fortified Green Zone in Baghdad.

US fire mission at Qayyarah West Airfield, Iraq 100919 CREDIT US Dpt Defense

The US-led coalition has started pulling out of a second base in Iraq, hours after two rockets hit Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone.

The attack in Iraq’s capital, the seat of government and home to the United States embassy, is the latest in a series of strikes on the Green Zone this month.

According to the military statement, two projectiles struck near the Baghdad Operations Command, which co-ordinates Iraq’s police and military forces.

The coalition began the pullout from Qayara airfield, northern Iraq, in line with plans to withdraw troops from across the region and consolidate coalition forces in Baghdad and at al-Asad Air Base.

Qayyarah Airfield West Exchange closes 130320 CREDIT US Dpt Defense
(Picture: US Department of Defense).

The planned pullout has been in place since last year and was accelerated after Iraqi forces proved they could face the threat from Islamic State with limited coalition assistance.

Coalition spokesman Myles Caggins said several hundred troops would depart the Qayara base in the coming days and that $1 million-worth of property would be transferred to the Iraqi government.

Iraqi officials also said the US renewed a sanctions waiver enabling Iraq to import crucial gas and electricity from Iran, but with a shorter deadline.

The attack itself was the first attack on the Green Zone since 17 March, when three rockets hit an area near the embassy.

It was the fourth rocket attack in the space of a week focused on US interests in Iraq, after an attack on the Basmaya training camp and two attacks on Camp Taji.

Force protection measures in Qayyarah Airfield West 130320 CREDIT US Dpt Defense
(Picture: US Department of Defense).

Earlier this month, a strike on Camp Taji killed three coalition service members, including two Americans and British soldier Lance Corporal Brodie Gillon, a reservist with the Scottish and North Irish Yeomanry.

The US responded with air strikes that Washington said were mainly focused on weapons facilities belonging to Kataib Hezbollah, an Iran-backed Iraqi militia believed to responsible for the attack.

However, Iraq’s military said those air strikes killed five security force personnel and one civilian, with the militia vowing revenge for the attacks.

The latest rocket strike comes as a state-imposed curfew to contain the spread of coronavirus was extended for a second time until 11 April, according to an Iraqi cabinet statement.

Cover image: US Department of Defense.