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Missiles fired from northern Iraq target US-led coalition base in Syria

Iraqi security forces said rockets were fired late Sunday from northern Iraq at a military base in Syria hosting a US-led coalition.

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In response, Iraqi forces launched a major search operation in the northern province of Nineveh and found the vehicle used in the attack, they said in a statement.

It is the first major attack on coalition forces in several weeks.

It comes days after Israel reportedly responded to an Iranian attack with a drone strike on the Islamic republic, amid tensions fueled by the Gaza war.

The Iraqi security forces statement accused “outlaw elements of attacking an international coalition base with missiles in the heart of Syrian territory” at around 9:50 pm (1850 GMT).

Security forces burned the vehicle involved in the attack, the statement said.

Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said several rockets were fired “from Iraqi territory at the Kharab al-Jir base” in northeastern Syria, where US troops are stationed.

He accused the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, a loose alliance of Iranian-backed groups, of organizing the attack.

The group has claimed most of the attacks on US forces between mid-October and early February.

Following a series of rocket and drone attacks by pro-Iranian armed factions on US soldiers deployed in the Middle East this winter, there had been several weeks of calm.

Rising regional tensions

The Islamic Resistance in Iraq has said it is acting in solidarity with the Palestinians and anger over US support for Israel in the Gaza war.

A drone strike on January 28 killed three American soldiers in the Jordanian desert on the Syrian border.

In response, the US military has attacked dozens of targets in Syria and Iraq, targeting pro-Iranian forces and drawing criticism from both countries’ governments.

The United States has about 2,500 troops stationed in Iraq and nearly 900 across the border in Syria, as part of an international coalition formed in 2014 to fight the Islamic State group (IS).

Sunday evening’s rocket attack came against the backdrop of rising tensions in the region, with a flare-up between Iran and Israel.

Early Saturday, an explosion at an Iraqi military base killed one person and injured eight others.

Security forces said the blast hit the Kalsu military base in Babylon province south of Baghdad, where the regular army, police and members of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces, or Hashed al-Shaabi, are based.

CENTCOM, the US military command in the region, denied involvement in an attack there. The Israeli military declined to comment.

(AFP)