Six rockets were fired yesterday at the Iraqi capital’s airport, causing damage but no casualties, authorities said, the latest in a string of attacks the US blames on militias.
The rockets hit Baghdad International Airport’s causing “significant damage to one runway and to two civilian planes”, the Civil Aviation department said in a statement.
Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi denounced the attacks, which he said were aimed at “tarnishing” Iraq’s reputation and “casting doubt over the security situation”. The attack was not immediately claimed by any group.
Recent months have seen rocket and drone attacks target the US embassy in Baghdad’s high-security Green Zone, a US diplomatic facility at the airport and troops belonging to a US-led coalition stationed at Iraqi bases.
The past few weeks have also seen violence targeting Iraqi politicians and parties, largely consisting of grenade attacks, but also extending to one rocket assault near the home of a key politician, amid tensions surrounding the formation of a new government.
One of the planes hit was a Boeing 767 belonging to Iraqi Airways, that was out of service and stationary.
The state-owned airline posted pictures of the damage, consisting of a hole near the nose of a plane.
No flights were affected by the attack, the airline added. The security services also said that Katyusha rockets had been fired on the airport.
A rocket launcher with three projectiles was found in the Abu Ghreib region north of Baghdad, the security services said, adding they had “important leads” that could help track down the assailants.
Like yesterday’s rockets, recent attacks are rarely claimed. But they are routinely pinned on various factions, who demand that US troops deployed to help Iraqi forces fight the Islamic State group leave the country.
The US-led coalition ended its combat mission in Iraq in December, four years after the Baghdad government declared victory over the militants. But roughly 2,500 American soldiers and 1,000 coalition soldiers remain deployed in Iraq to offer training, advice and assistance to national forces.
On January 3, US forces downed two armed drones that targeted the coalition at Baghdad airport, according to a coalition source. On January 13, three people, including two children, were wounded by a rocket that hit a school in the Green Zone, while two other rockets fell inside the US embassy complex, without causing casualties.
Recent attacks have also come amid a tense political situation.
An election in October saw Fatah (Conquest) Alliance, the political wing of ex-paramilitary coalition Hashed al-Shaabi, lose most of its seats.
It alleged the polls were rigged.
A bloc led by cleric Moqtada Sadr, who once led an anti-US militia and who opposes all foreign interference, took the largest share of seats, and is trying to form a coalition government that could include various factions.
Three rockets on Tuesday landed near the home of parliament speaker and prospective Sadr ally Mohamed al-Halbussi, just hours after the supreme court approved his re-election in that role.
Iraqi soldiers man a checkpoint in the the capital Baghdad yesterday, following a reported rocket attack on the country’s airport.