Erbil attack in response to U.S. strikes against PMF on Iraq border: militia group

Members of Asaib Ahl al-Haq paramilitary group take part in a Quds Day march in Baghdad, July 1, 2016 (AP photo)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Iraq’s militia group Asaib Ahl al-Haq said on Wednesday the drone attack on Erbil was in response to the U.S. airstrike against a militia group on the border between Iraq and Syria.

A bomb-laden drone targeted Erbil airport late on Tuesday, according to the Region’s counter-terrorism directorate, but caused no casualties or damages.

Coalition spokesman Col. Wayne Marotto said an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) impacted in the vicinity of Erbil air base, which houses U.S. and Coalition troops.

Member of Asaib Ahl a-Haq politburo Saad al-Saadi said the attack on Erbil airport was a response from the “Iraqi resistance factions” to the U.S. strikes against the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), Shafaq News reported.

The U.S. military said last week that 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.

“The coming days will witness an escalation in the pace of qualitative operations against the American presence until this administration [Iraqi government] complies with the Iraqi parliament’s decision to leave Iraq and respect Iraqi sovereignty,” Saadi told Shafaq news.

The attack comes a day after rockets and a drone targeted Ain al-Asad air base, which houses U.S. troops, and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

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 April, a drone dropped explosives near the U.S. forces stationed at Erbil airport. That was the first known attack carried out by an unmanned aerial drone against U.S. forces in Erbil, amid a steady stream of rocket attacks on bases hosting U.S. forces and the embassy in Baghdad that Washington blames on Iran-backed militias.

U.N. Special Representative to Iraq Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert said the constant attacks were “an affront to the rule of law”.

“Such acts are pushing the country towards the unknown, with the Iraqi people potentially paying a high price,” Hennis-Plasschaert said.

“The legitimacy of the State must not be threatened by callous armed actors,” she added.


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