Bomb-laden drone targets Erbil airport, no casualties: CTD

Smoke rises over the Erbil, after reports of mortar shells landing near Erbil airport, Iraq February 15, 2021. (Reuters)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — The Kurdistan Region’s counter-terrorism directorate said a bomb-laden drone targeted Erbil airport late on Tuesday, but caused no casualties.

In a statement, the Counter-Terrorism Directorate said the airport was attacked at 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

“The attack caused no casualties or damages,” it added.

Earlier, the counter-terrorism service said a rocket attack was carried out on the airport.

Meanwhile, U.S.-led Coalition Spokesman Col. Wayne Marotto said in a tweet that an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) impacted in vicinity of Erbil Air Base at 11:15 p.m. (local time).

The base hosts U.S. and Coalition troops.

“At this time initial reports indicate no injuries, casualties or damage,” Marotto added.

Esta Media Network reporter said sirens sounded from the U.S. consulate general in Erbil.

The attack came after the defensive systems at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad intercepted and shot down a drone late on Monday.

Iraq’s Ain al-Asad air base housing Coalition troops was also hit by three rockets on Monday.

“The rockets landed on the base perimeter,” Coalition Spokesman Col. Wayne Marotto added. “There are no injuries and damage is being assessed.”

No groups have claimed responsibility for the attacks, but armed groups that some Iraqi officials say are backed by Iran have claimed similar incidents.

U.S. officials blame Iran-backed militias for regular rocket attacks on U.S. facilities in Iraq, including near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

In response to drone and rocket attacks, the U.S. military said it targeted operational and weapons storage facilities at two locations in Syria and one in Iraq.

Iraqi militia groups aligned with Iran in a statement named four members of the Kataib Sayyed al-Shuhada faction they said were killed in the attack on the Syria-Iraq border. They vowed to retaliate.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the strikes hit facilities used by militia blamed for an escalating series of drone and rocket attacks against American personnel and facilities in Iraq.

In apparent retaliation for the airstrikes, U.S. troops came under rocket fire in Syria on Monday. A U.S. military official said on Tuesday that nearly 34 rockets were fired in the attack, but caused no injuries.

U.S. officials believe Iran is behind a ramp-up in increasingly sophisticated drone attacks and periodic rocket fire against U.S. personnel and facilities in Iraq, where the U.S. military has been helping Baghdad combat the remnants of Islamic State.

Iran denied on Saturday U.S. accusations that Tehran supported attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria.

Iran’s envoy to the United Nations Majid Takht Ravanchi said: “Any claim to attribute to Iran… any attack carried out against American personnel or facilities in Iraq is factually wrong and void of the minimum requirements of authenticity and reliability.”

*This story was updated at 01:12 a.m. (EBL time) on Wednesday 

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