Katyusha rocket hits military base at Baghdad airport

Baghdad: A Katyusha rocket struck an Iraqi military base hosting US troops at Baghdad’s international airport on Wednesday, an Iraqi military statement said.

No damage or casualties were reported from the attack, the third in as many days since Monday’s anniversary of a US airstrike that killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad two years ago.

The Katyusha multiple rocket launcher is a type of rocket artillery first built and fielded by the Soviet Union in World War II. Multiple rocket launchers such as these deliver explosives to a target area more intensively than conventional artillery, but with lower accuracy and requiring a longer time to reload.

The Iraqi military statement said a rocket launcher with one rocket was located in a residential district in western Baghdad. The area has been used in the past by Iran-backed militias to fire rockets at the airport.

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On Monday, two armed drones were shot down as they headed toward a facility housing US advisors at Baghdad airport. Two explosives-laden drones targeting an Iraqi military base housing US troops in western Anbar province were destroyed on Tuesday.

The 2020 US drone strike at Baghdad’s airport killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who was the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of Iran-backed militias in Iraq known as the Popular Mobilization Forces.

Pro-Iran Shiite factions in Iraq have vowed revenge for the killing and have conditioned the end of attacks against the US presence in Iraq on the full exit of American troops from the country.

The US-led coalition formally ended its combat mission supporting Iraqi forces in the ongoing fight against the Islamic State group last month. Some 2,500 troops will remain as the coalition shifts to an advisory mission to continue supporting Iraqi forces.

The top US commander for the Middle East Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie warned in an interview with the Associated Press last month that he expects increasing attacks on US and Iraqi personnel by Iranian-backed militias determined to get American forces out.

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