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Iraq Beefs up Security around Ain al-Asad Base after String of Attacks

Iraq Beefs up Security around Ain al-Asad Base after String of Attacks

Sunday, 29 December, 2019 - 11:30
A US soldier from the 2nd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division stands guard at a military base, Mosul, Iraq, Feb. 14, 2017. (Reuters)

An Iraqi general said Sunday that security has been beefed up around the Ain al-Asad air base, a sprawling complex in the western Anbar desert that hosts US forces, following a series of attacks.

Maj. Gen. Raad Mahmoud told The Associated Press that investigations were still underway to determine who was behind the unclaimed attacks on bases across Iraq, including one earlier this month in which five rockets landed inside Ain al-Asad.

A US defense contractor was killed Friday in a rocket attack at a different Iraqi military compound near Kirkuk where US service members are based. Several American and Iraqi troops were also wounded.

US officials said the attack involved as many as 30 rockets. US officials have for the most part blamed Iran-backed fighters for these attacks.

Washington recently promised "a decisive US response" to the growing number of unclaimed attacks on its interests in Iraq.

US-Iran tensions have soared since Washington pulled out of the 2015 nuclear agreement with Tehran last year and imposed crippling sanctions.

Iraq has been roiled since Oct. 1 by anti-government protests that have left more than 450 people dead. The vast majority of those who died were demonstrators killed by security forces firing tear gas and live ammunition. The mass uprisings prompted the resignation of former Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi late last month.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi Joint Operations Command announced Sunday the start of a military operation to pursue the remnants of the ISIS group in five different areas in the country.

The eighth phase of the operation, code named “Will of Victory,” would cover areas in Mosul, Kirkuk, Diyala, Salahaddin, and al-Jazeera provinces.

The paramilitary Popular Mobilization Forces and local tribal militias are also participating in the operations, with air cover from the Iraqi air force and the Coalition air force, according to a statement issued Sunday.

Iraq declared victory over ISIS two years ago, but they still carry out sporadic attacks in parts of the country.

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