Rocket attack in Erbil kills US military contractor

TEHRAN, Feb. 16 (MNA) – A rocket attack in the northern Iraqi city of Erbil on Monday killed a civilian contractor with the American-led military coalition and wounded six others, including a US service member, said a US-led coalition spokesman.

Several other rockets landed in residential areas of the city, the capital of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, including one close to the Chinese Consulate.

Col. Wayne Marotto, a spokesman for the US-led coalition in Iraq, said, “There was one civilian contractor killed, five civilian contractors injured and one US service member injured” in the Monday night “indirect fire”.

Former Iraqi prime minister and senior Kurdish official Hoshyar Zebari said “five Katyusha rockets” hit the city of Erbil and some diplomatic facilities and residential areas.

The airport was reportedly shut down and flights were halted for safety issues.

A newly-established militant group that calls itself “Saraya Awliya al-Dam” has claimed responsibility for the rocket attack, Press TV reported.

In a statement published by Sabereen News, a Telegram channel close to the Resistance Front, the group has said it carried out the “successful operation” at 9:15 pm against American occupiers in the northern parts of Iraq.

The group claimed that it fired 24 rockets from an area 7 kilometers away from the US-occupied al-Tahrir military base, all of which hit their targets as the coalition air defenses failed to intercept the rockets.

The Telegram channel also quoted an informed source as saying that the rocket attacks have severely damaged a Super King Air 350 aircraft belonging to the CIA and destroyed an MQ-1C drone.

Local news outlet Rudaw quoted a statement by the Kurdistan Regional Government’s interior ministry as saying that security forces have launched an investigation, calling on people to stay home.

Western military and diplomatic sites have been targeted by dozens of rockets and roadside bomb attacks since 2019, but most of the violence has taken place in Iraq’s capital, Baghdad.

The Monday attack was the deadliest one to hit US-led forces for almost a year in Iraq, where tensions have escalated between US forces, their Iraqi and Kurdish allies on one side and the resistance groups fighting the US occupiers on the other.

MNA/FNA13991128000024

News Code 170005

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