Rocket Barrage on Al Asad Air Base Injures Two

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Mine Resistant Ambush Protected-All Terrain Vehicles at Al Asad Air Base
Airmen with the Security Forces Flight, 443d Expeditionary Squadron, conduct a routine flight line patrol with U.S. flags flying from their Mine Resistant Ambush Protected-All Terrain Vehicles at Al Asad Air Base on July 4, 2021. (Christie R. Smith/U.S. Army National Guard)

Two people were injured in a rocket attack Wednesday at Al Asad Air Base, which houses U.S. and coalition forces in western Iraq, a spokesman said on Twitter.

Col. Wayne Marotto, head spokesman for the anti-Islamic State coalition Operation Inherent Resolve, said that a barrage of 14 rockets were fired at Al Asad at about 12:30 p.m. local time and landed on the base and its perimeter.

Marotto said force protection defensive measures were activated during the attack. Damage to the base is still being assessed, he said, but all personnel have been accounted for.

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"Each attack against the [government of Iraq], KRI [Kurdistan region], and the coalition undermines the authority of Iraqi institutions, the rule of law and Iraqi national sovereignty," Marotto said. "Coalition forces are co-located with our [Iraqi Security Forces] and Peshmerga partners on ISF bases. Each attack against the coalition endangers the lives of ISF and Peshmerga forces."

Marotto later retweeted photographs of the damage caused by the attack, taken by Iraq's official Security Media Cell. The group said that a truck with a container stopped in the Al-Baghdadi area of Anbar, which is near Al Asad. The truck appeared to be carrying bags of flour, but actually housed a base to launch missiles that were then fired at Al Asad.

The Iraqi government said that additional rockets that were left inside the truck exploded, damaging nearby homes and a mosque.

Al Asad was also the target of an Iranian ballistic missile attack in January 2020 that caused about 2,000 troops to take shelter in bunkers. Nobody was killed in that incident, but the head of U.S. Central Command told 60 Minutes earlier this year the attack nearly killed between 100 and 150 U.S. personnel and could have destroyed up to 30 aircraft.

The military first said nobody was injured in the 2020 ballistic missile attack, but more than 100 troops were later diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries, and more than two dozen were approved to receive Purple Heart medals.

Wednesday's attack on Al Asad came about 13 hours after another strike on Erbil Air Base in northern Iraq, about 250 miles away. At least one explosive-laden drone hit in the vicinity of Erbil at about 11:15 p.m. Tuesday, Marotto posted earlier on Twitter. He said there were no injuries, casualties or damage from that attack.

A few hours after the Erbil attack, Marotto underscored the coalition's support for Iraq's Kurds and the Peshmerga. Erbil is the capital of Iraq's Kurdistan region.

"We will continue to work together to deter the attacks against the KRI and its people," he said. "Daesh will not prevail."

Daesh is a pejorative nickname for ISIS that the group particularly hates. It is essentially an acronym for the group's previous name in Arabic, which sounds similar to an Arabic verb that means to trample or crush underfoot.

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

Related: Al Asad Missile Attack Nearly Killed 150 US Troops, Destroyed 30 Aircraft: Report

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