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Rockets Hit Baghdad Airport; U.S. Officials Blame Iran’s Regime

Rockets Hit Baghdad Airport; U.S. Officials Blame Iran's Regime
Four rockets landed inside the Baghdad international airport Sunday night, according to United States military officials who blame Iran’s regime and its proxy forces for the attack

Four rockets landed inside the Baghdad international airport Sunday night, according to United States military officials who blame Iran’s regime and its proxy forces for the attack.

The rockets hit a building called the Diplomatic Support Center, located on the opposite side of the airport from the civilian runway and passenger terminal where U.S. military personnel are present, the military officials told Fox News.

The rockets landed between 100 and 400 yards away from American troops and civilians, one official said.

Five Iraq soldiers were wounded by shrapnel, the officials said. It’s not clear how severe the injuries were.

The latest rocket attack, the ninth since late October, comes as U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper weighs a decision to add reinforcements to the Middle East to deter the Iranian regime, on top of the 14,000 added to the region since May—half aboard warships.

“We take these incidents seriously as do our Iraqi Security Forces partners, who are investigating these events. We have made clear that attacks on US. and Coalition personnel and facilities will not be tolerated and we retain the right to defend ourselves. US forces operate in Iraq at the invitation of the government of Iraq to support Iraqi forces against ISIS,” Pentagon spokesperson Cdr. Sean Robertson told CNN in a statement.

In two separate interviews with Bret Baier and Chris Wallace at the Reagan National Defense Forum at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Calif., Esper said he was not considering adding 14,000 or 7,000 more troops “right now,” but refused to rule out smaller numbers in the future.

There are currently more than 60,000 U.S. troops deployed throughout the Middle East right now, officials say.

There have been nine rocket attacks on or in the vicinity of Iraqi facilities that host U.S. troops in the last six weeks, officials say.

A December 3 attack included 122 mm rockets, larger warheads than used in previous attacks. The 122 mm rockets that landed inside Al Asad Air Base —where Vice President Mike Pence visited days before Thanksgiving—are more dangerous and can be fired from a greater range than previous 107 mm rocket attacks elsewhere in Iraq.

The U.S. military blames Iranian-backed militia groups for the attacks using the larger 122 mm rockets, officials told Fox News.

“Iranian-backed militias are now shelling Iraqi bases with American and anti-ISIS Coalition forces on them — Balad, al-Asad, et cetera,” the US State Department’s Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker told reporters Friday.

“We’re waiting for full evidence,” he said while later adding, “If past is prologue, I’d say there’s a good chance it was Iran that’s behind it.”

The attacks against Iraqi bases where some of the 5,000 U.S. troops are deployed come amid widespread protests in Iraq and led to the recent resignation of the country’s prime minister. Some 400 Iraqi protesters have been killed since early October.

Iran’s regime is playing a major role in the killings in addition to Iraqi security forces.

In neighboring Iran, more than 1,000 protesters have been killed since mid-November after the regime announced a new tax on gasoline leading to widespread protests in at least 190 Iranian cities. The sweeping unrest led authorities to shut down the internet for days in an attempt to prevent videos and photos of the massacres from getting out.

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