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US Civilian Contractor Killed in Iraq Rocket Attack

Aftermaths of a rocket attack on U.S.-led forces in northern Iraq, March 3, 2021.
Aftermaths of a rocket attack on U.S.-led forces in northern Iraq, March 3, 2021.

The latest rocket attack on a military base housing U.S. and coalition troops in Iraq has claimed the life of a civilian contractor.

U.S. defense officials said approximately 10 rockets were fired at the Al Asad air base early Wednesday from a point east of the base, causing the installation’s counter-rocket defense systems to activate.

No U.S. troops were hurt, but officials said that as a result of the rocket attack, an American civilian contractor suffered a heart attack and died.

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in statement Wednesday that an investigation into the attack, both by Iraqi security forces and coalition officials, is ongoing, but that it is not yet clear who was behind the strike.

"We cannot attribute responsibility at this time, and we do not have a complete picture of the extent of the damage," Kirby said.

The attack on the Al Asad air base comes less than a week after the United States launched an airstrike against a compound in eastern Syria used by Iranian-backed militias as a transit and supply point to carry out attacks in Iraq.

U.S. President Joe Biden warned last Friday that Iran needed to tread carefully in Iraq.

“You can't act with impunity,” Biden told reporters when asked about the airstrike, which destroyed nine facilities at the compound and killed at least one militia member.

The U.S. airstrike was in response to a February 16 rocket attack on a base in northern Iraq, which killed a civilian contractor and injured a U.S. service member. Iran targeted the Al Asad base last year in a retaliatory strike for the U.S. killing of top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani.