| 7 December 2023, Thursday |

‘Mysterious’ attack carried out on Iraqi base, US ruled out as culprit

An Iraqi base on the outskirts of Baghdad came under a rocket attack in the past two days, revealed military sources.

The attackers of the Saqr base south of Baghdad remained unknown amid speculation that the authorities were trying to stop news about the development from spreading.

It is believed that the assault was American retaliation to attacks by pro-Iran factions on American troops in Iraq. The sources also said the attack may have been carried out by Israel.

Tensions have been high in Iraq amid the ongoing attacks on American bases. The latest targeted the Harir base north of Erbil, capital of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, on Saturday.

Iraqi officials have so far refused to comment on the Saqr base attack, but a senior officer spoke of blasts being heard and fires breaking out at the facility.

Iraqi federal forces assumed control of the base from American troops in 2010. It has since become the base of some police units and members of the pro-Iran Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF).

It has come under rocket and drone attacks in the past. The most intense was reported in July 2021.

The senior officer told Asharq Al-Awsat that the attack on Saqr didn’t bare the hallmarks of an American assault. He believes that the American forces are following clear rules of engagement in Iraq.

Asharq Al-Awsat previously reported that American responses to assaults on its troops may not be limited to strikes on pro-Iran factions.

Sources from the Iran-aligned Coordination Framework said the US may retaliate by striking military bases, used by the official authorities, that the factions may use to launch attacks against the American troops.

The sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Americans won’t be the only sides retaliating to the attacks by the armed factions, meaning another party may get involved.

Meanwhile, differences between Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani and the pro-Iran groups appear to be deepening after contacts between them failed in deterring the latter from stopping their attacks on American forces.

A political aide revealed that Sudani informed his partners of the “worrying” outcomes of the escalation shortly after he held talks in Tehran with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and following his talks in Baghdad with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken last week.

Sunni and Kurdish MPs believe that Sudani is trying to distance his government from the actions of the armed groups even if some of them are represented in the cabinet.

A leading Coordination Framework member said the factions and Iranians informed Sudani that the attacks will not stop in spite of the government’s concern.


  • Asharq Al-Awsat