Iraqi and Kurdish forces detain two suspects of Erbil rocket attack

A combined picture of suspects carried out a rocket attack on Erbil, February 15, 2021. (Kurdistan counter terrorism service)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Iraqi and Kurdish forces have detained two of the four main suspects of the rocket attack on Erbil, the Kurdish counter-terrorism service said on Wednesday.

Nearly 14 rockets were launched toward Erbil city on February 15, according to the U.S.-led Coalition forces. Three of the rockets impacted within a base hosting Coalition troops near Erbil international airport.

In a statement, the Kurdistan Region’s Counter-Terrorism Service said the Kurdish forces had detained the main suspect and that he had made confession.

The Iraqi security forces also detained the second suspect after exchanging information with the federal government’s security services and the U.S.-led Coalition forces, the Kurdish counter-terrorism service added.

It further said investigations and efforts to arrest the other two suspects were ongoing.

The Region’s counter-terrorism service named the first suspect as Haidar Hamza Abbas Mustafa Bayati, but didn’t give names of the other suspects due to the continuous investigation.

Coalition Spokesman Col. Wayne Marotto said the attack killed a civilian contractor and wounded nine others, including a U.S. service member.

The attack also killed two civilians and wounded seven others, according to health officials in the Region.

The Region’s counter-terrorism service, however, said a foreign contractor and an Iraqi citizen were killed, and seven people were wounded, including five U.S. soldiers and two civilians.

A group calling itself “Avengers of Blood”, or Saraya Awliya al-Dam, claimed responsibility for the rocket attack on Erbil in a statement on social media, saying it targeted “American occupation” and that it was “the beginning of the game”.

On Feb. 25, Kurdistan Region’s Masrour Barzani said the security forces had been able to identify perpetrators responsible for the rocket attack on Erbil.

The United States conducted airstrikes against Iran-backed militias in eastern Syria at the direction of President Joe Biden on February 25. U.S. officials said the attack was a calibrated response to rocket attacks against personnel in Iraq.

*This story was updated at 07:45 p.m. EBL time

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