An air base in northern Iraq that houses U.S. troops was struck Friday evening with a barrage of rockets but no one was injured, the Pentagon said, as violence continues to mount in parts of the country amid fights with Islamic State militants and angry anti-government protesters.
The 17 Katyusha rockets intended for the Iraqi army base in Qayyara appeared to have been fired in Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city some 38 miles south.
“No Coalition troops were injured,” the Pentagon said in a statement. “We appreciate the Iraqi Security Forces immediate response and investigation. Coalition forces are in Iraq at the invitation of the Government of Iraq to defeat ISIS remnants; we will not be deterred by these attacks and maintain the right to defend ourselves.”
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, The Associated Press reported.
In this Feb. 23, 2017, photo, U.S. Army soldiers stand outside their armored vehicle on a joint base with the Iraqi Army south of Mosul, Iraq. (AP Photo/ Khalid Mohammed, File)
American forces are in the area helping Iraqi forces battles remnants of the ISIS.
The U.S. withdrew from Iraq in 2011 but returned in 2014 to help battle ISIS fighters after the group seized large swaths of the country, including Mosul. The U.S. provided crucial air support as Iraqi forces drove out ISIS in a three-year campaign to retake the territory it lost.
The U.S. maintains around 5,000 troops in Iraq.
Friday’s attack comes as large parts of Iraq have erupted in anti-government protests in recent weeks that have engulfed the capital of Baghdad and Shiite-majority southern provinces. Clashes between demonstrators and security forces have resulted in more than 250 deaths across the country.
Iraqi security forces try to disperse anti-government protesters during ongoing protests in Baghdad, Iraq this week. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)
Many dissatisfied with the government formed after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion are calling for an overhaul of the political system, citing corruption and incompetence. Protesters have complained of high unemployment and poor public services, despite Iraq having the world’s fourth-largest oil reserves.
Protestors recently ransacked and set on fire offices of politicals parties linked to Iran and attacked the Iranian Consulate in Karbala.
American offices have also been targeted. Rockets were recently fired at the U.S. Embassy inside the fortified Green Zone in Baghdad.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.