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Iraqi Government Examines In-Country Missile Attacks on U.S. Bases

Feb. 23, 2021 | BY C. Todd Lopez , DOD News

The Iraqi government is investigating three attacks on U.S. bases in the country and is doing a careful and complete job, Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby said.

"We had a very good discussion with our Iraqi partners a couple of weeks ago, in the wake of the Irbil attacks," Kirby told reporters today. "They made it very clear to the [secretary of defense] that they're taking this seriously, and they want the chance to investigate it for themselves ... we're going to let them do that."

The attack in Irbil killed a U.S. contractor and wounded a service member and others, while the attack in Baghdad's Green Zone caused property damage. In addition, an attack at Balad Air Base wounded personnel.

Rubble is seen in what appears to have once been a room. Sunlight can be seen shining in through where a roof might once have been.
Irbil Scene
Rubble remains after an indirect fire attack at Irbil Air Base in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, Feb. 15, 2021.
Photo By: Army Maj. Brian Burns
VIRIN: 210217-A-ZJ425-020

Despite the suspicions about the source of the weapons used and who backed those responsible, Kirby said the attacks remain unrelated to any diplomatic activities that may be happening between the U.S. and Iran.

"This has nothing to do with ... any diplomatic efforts that may or may not be happening," he said. "It has to do with trying to make sure we judge accountability the right way. And that's what the secretary wants to give our Iraqi partners the time and space to do."

A soldier adjusts a weapon in silhouette.
Irbil Training
Paratroopers with 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, conduct a live-fire exercise and range with coalition partners near Irbil Air Base, Iraq, Dec. 3, 2020. Irbil Air Base was attacked by rockets, Feb. 15, 2021.
Photo By: Army Maj. Russell Gordo
VIRIN: 201203-A-JC015-870R

Despite that commitment, Kirby said the Defense Department is aware of the threat Iran continues to pose in the region.

"Nobody's backing away from the significant security challenges that Iran still poses, ... and we've not been bashful about that at all," he said. "And nobody also is in a rush to judgment here on these particular attacks ... historically, we have seen these attacks from Shia-backed militias on our facilities, our people, and those of the Iraqis, as well, being conducted with weaponry, rockets that have Iranian origin."

A military aircraft sits on a runway.
Globemaster View
A C-17 Globemaster III waits to be unloaded after landing at Irbil Air Base in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, March 23, 2020. Irbil Air Base was attacked by rockets Feb, 15, 2021.
Photo By: Army Spc. Angel Ruszkiewicz
VIRIN: 200323-A-JD648-2005R

Kirby said the department has concerns Iranians are using proxies in the Middle East to create insecurity and instability in the region. "Their malign activities in the region are a matter of record," he said. "And nothing has changed about our desire to be able to address those malign activities in the appropriate way."