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5 missiles hit Iraqi base, narrowly missing US-stationed soldiers

Previously unknown group hostile to US military presence in Iraq claims responsibility on pro-Iran Telegram channel; US often blames Iran-backed militias for such attacks

An aerial file photo taken from a helicopter shows Ain al-Asad air base in the western Anbar desert, Iraq, December 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)
An aerial file photo taken from a helicopter shows Ain al-Asad air base in the western Anbar desert, Iraq, December 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

At least five missiles hit a sprawling Iraqi army base hosting US troops in the country’s western desert Monday, two Iraqi security officials said.

The officials said the Grad missiles struck inside the Ain al-Asad base in Iraq’s western Anbar province and caused minor damages but no casualties.

The officials said the missiles hit only a few meters from where US forces are stationed. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.

A previously unknown group hostile to the United States’ military presence in Iraq, “International Resistance,” claimed responsibility for the attack on a pro-Iran Telegram channel.

The US has long accused Iran-backed Iraqi militia groups of targeting the American presence in Iraq, including the US Embassy in Baghdad.

The attacks were once a frequent occurrence, but have lessened in recent months.

US soldiers stand at a site of Iranian bombing at Ain al-Asad air base in Anbar, Iraq on January 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Qassim Abdul-Zahra)

In March, Iran attacked Iraq’s northern city of Irbil with a dozen ballistic missiles, claiming it was targeting Israeli spy centers. Iraq later said an investigation found there was no Israeli presence in the areas. The attack was also considered a warning to the US, a staunch ally of Israel.

US-led coalition forces recently ended their combat mission in Iraq, but continue to play an advisory role to Iraqi forces in the fight against the Islamic State extremist group.

Some 2,500 US soldiers and around 1,000 troops from other coalition members remain in three Iraqi military bases to continue in that role, which began more than a year ago.

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