Holes in the side of an airliner were the only damage left by a rocket attack near US forces Friday, Jan. 28, 2022, in Baghdad. Photo from Twitter.
A crude rocket attack landed in the vicinity of Baghdad International Airport and a former US military base Friday, Jan. 28. Nobody was hurt, and the only casualty was an abandoned airliner that was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
But it marked the second time in under a week that a base with US military personnel on it had been subject to rocket fire. Militias in Yemen on Monday launched long-range missiles at Abu Dhabi, and US forces at Al Dhafra Air Base engaged the projectiles with Patriot missiles. Some reporting indicated that the Yemen-fired missiles may have been targeted at the small US force in Abu Dhabi.
Friday’s attack in Baghdad was of a smaller scale, with vehicle-launched rockets fired from somewhere outside the airport’s grounds. Pictures circulating from the scene appeared to show a crude launcher and several rockets. The Associated Press reported that at least three rockets landed in the area between Iraq’s largest airport and Camp Victory, located just outside the airport. The attack hit an out-of-service Iraqi Airways plane parked near the airport, the AP reported, but operations were otherwise running as normal.
Pictures of the plane with impact holes punched in its fuselage circulated on social media. Flight tracking sites indicated the plane has belonged to the Iraqi government since 2007. Additional pictures of an abandoned truck with a crude launcher circulated as well, with what appeared to be additional unused Iranian 107 mm rockets.
The origin of the rockets in the picture could not be confirmed, but the lot number stamped on the side of the shells appears to be just one digit off from three 107 mm shells pictured in a tweet by President Donald Trump in 2019. Those 2019 rockets, Trump said, “failed to launch,” adding “Guess where they were from: IRAN.” Lot numbers are widely assigned to a batch of munitions that are manufactured together and often shipped together. The 2019 lot numbers of the rockets Trump tweeted about were 571 and 573, while the pictures said to be from the largely identical rounds used in Friday’s attack indicate a lot number of 572.
None of the information on Friday’s rockets, including the authenticity of the stamps, could be verified by Coffee or Die Magazine.
Attacks against Camp Victory, which served as a major hub for US and coalition forces before being turned over to the Iraqi government in 2011, have become a fairly common occurrence in recent years.
Another volley of rocket attacks took place just three weeks ago, also near the Baghdad airport. In that attack, five Katyusha rockets landed near Ain al-Asad Air Base, where US forces are also present, Reuters reported. The closest rocket impacted just over a mile away from the base, and no casualties were reported.
The Pentagon and some Iraqi officials believe the attacks are being carried out by Iran-backed military groups that want America’s foothold in the region removed, the AP reported. The recent attacks come following the two-year anniversary of the death of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who was assassinated by the United States.
Iran called upon the UN earlier this month to take action against the United States for killing its top military official, Al Jazeera reported. Trump had ordered the killing of Soleimani in 2020, having labeled the general “the world’s top terrorist.”
In a letter to the UN General Assembly, Iran argued that the United States operates around the world unilaterally and at times against international laws and agreements. The letter called for resolutions condemning the US to prevent future attacks, Al Jazeera reported.
The United States rolled back its responsibilities in Iraq from a combatant to adviser position earlier this month, a US Central Command news release said. As of the beginning of 2022, the role of the US and coalition forces will be to advise, assist, and enable the Iraqi military and government.
Dustin Jones is a former senior staff writer for Coffee or Die Magazine covering military and intelligence news. Jones served four years in the Marine Corps with tours to Iraq and Afghanistan. He studied journalism at the University of Colorado and Columbia University. He has worked as a reporter in Southwest Montana and at NPR. A New Hampshire native, Dustin currently resides in Southern California.
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