US-Iran Tensions: It was the first attack on the base since December 27, when a volley of around 30 rockets killed a US contractor there and unleashed a dramatic escalation. (Photo Credit: File Photo)
In the latest attack on installations where American troops are deployed, rockets targeted an Iraqi airbase in the remote province of Kirkuk. The Katyusha rocket on Thursday night hit the K1 base at around 8:45pm local time (1745 GMT) and US military aircraft immediately began flying low over the area.
It was the first attack on the base since December 27, when a volley of around 30 rockets killed a US contractor there and unleashed a dramatic escalation. Washington blamed the rockets on Kataeb Hezbollah, a hardline Iraqi military faction close to Iran, and conducted retaliatory strikes that killed 25 of the group's fighters.
That death set off a series of dramatic developments, with the US carrying out strikes against a pro-Iran paramilitary group in Iraq as well as a convoy carrying top Iranian and Iraqi commanders outside Baghdad airport.
Tehran launched ballistic missiles at Iraqi bases housing American and other coalition forces in retaliation for the US killing top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani.
Qasem Soleimani, the popular head of the Revolutionary Guards' foreign operations arm, was killed in a US drone strike outside Baghdad airport on Friday, ratcheting up tensions between the arch-foes.
In outrage, Iraq's parliament voted to oust all foreign forces from the country, including around 5,200 US troops deployed to help local forces beat back remnants of the Islamic State group.
After Iraq Parliament’s vote, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo alleged that Iraqi leaders have told him privately they support the US troop presence, despite public appeals for them to leave. This came after last week Iraq’s parliament voted to expel the US military from the country. The lawmakers voted in favour of a resolution that mandates to end the presence of military of any other country in Iraq. With almost 5,000 US troops stationed in Iraq, the resolution seeks United States to withdraw its military.