Rockets Fired at Balad Air Base in Iraq

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An Iraqi F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft, assigned to the 9th Fighter Squadron, takes off prior to performing a Close Air Support Mission at Balad Air Base, Iraq, on June 17, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Luke Kitterman)
An Iraqi F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft, assigned to the 9th Fighter Squadron, takes off prior to performing a Close Air Support Mission at Balad Air Base, Iraq, on June 17, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Luke Kitterman)

Two rockets were fired at Balad Air Base in Iraq, the Iraqi Security Media Cell confirmed Monday.

The rockets fell outside the base and did not cause "significant losses," the cell said in a tweet.

In a follow-up tweet with photographs, the Iraqis said that a nearby home was damaged in the attack.

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Balad primarily houses contractors and employees of private American companies, said Col. Wayne Marotto, spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, but there are no U.S. or coalition troops assigned to Balad right now. Troops sometimes visit Balad for short temporary duty trips, he said, adding that he didn't believe any are currently there.

A string of rocket attacks on Iraqi air bases and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad have heightened tensions in the region and led to a Feb. 25 airstrike on Iranian-backed militias at a border crossing on the Syria-Iraq border.

During that strike -- the first of President Joe Biden's administration -- two F-15E Strike Eagles bombed a facility at Abu Kamal, Syria, that was allegedly used by Iranian-backed militias such as Kaiti'b Hezbollah and Kaiti'b Sayyid al-Shuhada to cross the border.

Afterward, the Pentagon said the strike was intended in part to damage the militia groups and their ability to conduct future attacks. However, less than a week later, a barrage of about 10 rockets was fired at Al Asad Air Base in Iraq, and a civilian U.S. contractor died of a heart attack while taking cover from the attack.

Previously, a Feb. 15 rocket attack in Erbil in northern Iraq killed one civilian contractor and wounded at least eight others, including an American service member. And three rockets were fired at the fortified Green Zone in Baghdad, though the attack caused only minor property damage and no injuries.

Balad also came under rocket fire in January 2020, after the U.S. killed Iranian Quds Force leader Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani.

-- Stephen Losey can be reached at stephen.losey@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @StephenLosey.

Related: Rocket Attacks Hit Baghdad's Green Zone, Balad Air Base: Iraqi Military

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