Pentagon press secretary John Kirby stated the contractor was sheltering throughout the assault on the Al-Asad air base, which US coalition officers stated was focused by no less than 10 rockets.
President Joe Biden, talking on the White House on Wednesday, advised reporters that “we’re following that through right now.”
“Thank God, no one was killed by the rocket — one individual, a contractor, died of a heart attack. But we’re identifying who is responsible and will make judgments from that point,” Biden stated.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated the US will reply to the assault “at a place and time of our choosing,” as soon as it has decided who’s accountable.
“The first thing we have to do is get to the bottom of it and find out to the best of our ability who in fact is responsible, and I think the President has been very clear that we will take appropriate action at a place and time of our choosing,” Blinken advised the PBS NewsHour in a while Wednesday.
The President was briefed Wednesday morning on the assault and had been monitoring particulars in a single day, White House press secretary Jen Psaki stated. “We are still assessing the impact of this latest rocket attack, including determining precise attribution,” Psaki stated Wednesday at a briefing.
Kirby stated Iraqi safety forces are on scene and investigating.
“We cannot attribute responsibility at this time, and we do not have a complete picture of the extent of the damage. We stand by as needed to assist our Iraqi partners as they investigate,” Kirby stated.
Kirby stated there have been “no current reports” of accidents to US service members and stated all are accounted for. A injury evaluation is underway.
A February 15 rocket assault on coalition forces close to the Erbil International Airport in Iraqi Kurdistan killed a civilian contractor and injured 9 others, together with 4 American contractors and one member of the US navy.
Days later, no less than 4 rockets struck Balad Air Base north of Baghdad. Then on February 22, two rockets landed in Bahgdad’s worldwide zone, the place many overseas embassies are positioned. There have been no reviews of accidents or injury.
One of the teams hit by these strikes, the Iran-backed militia Kata’ib Hezbollah, stated in a press release afterward that it had the suitable to reply to the “barbaric aggression” that killed certainly one of its fighters.
US officers had stated they hoped the Syria strikes would finish assaults on coalition forces. Wednesday’s assault might point out a failure to realize that purpose and that escalation could also be forward.
“One of the things we were certainly hoping to achieve as a result of that strike was to deter future attacks by militia groups on our people, our facilities and our Iraqi partners, and we certainly hope that it has that effect,” Kirby advised reporters the day earlier than Al-Asad was focused.
Psaki stated Wednesday that the US would reserve the suitable to reply. “What we won’t do is make a hasty or ill-informed decision that further escalates the decision or plays into the hands of our adversaries,” she stated. “If we assess further response is warranted, we will take action, again, in a manner and time of our choosing. And we reserve that option.”
Two US navy officers indicated to CNN that because the Biden administration critiques additional response choices to Wednesday’s assault, targets in Syria might be thought-about as a result of putting in Iraq places strain on that authorities in its personal dealings with Iran.
The prospect of navy escalation might trigger friction for Biden at dwelling, the place Democratic lawmakers have been vital of the Syria strike.
Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia stated after the strike that offensive navy motion with out congressional approval was “not constitutional absent extraordinary circumstances” and referred to as for Congress to be totally briefed expeditiously.
Rep. Ro Khanna, a California Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, echoed that decision, saying, “We need to extricate from the Middle East, not escalate.”
In a speech on the State Department outlining the Biden administration’s overseas coverage priorities, Blinken stated that Biden would put diplomacy earlier than navy motion, however that “we will never hesitate to use force when American lives and vital interests are at stake.”
“That’s why President Biden authorized an airstrike last week against Iranian-backed militia groups, targeting US and coalition forces in Iraq,” Blinken stated. “But in that case, and in future cases when we must take military action we will do so only when the objectives and mission are clear and achievable, consistent with our values and laws and with the informed consent of the American people. And we’ll do it together with diplomacy.”
The rocket launcher utilized in Wednesday’s assault was discovered within the al-Bayader agricultural space close to the city of al-Baghdadi, about 180 kilometers northwest of Baghdad, navy sources advised CNN. Sabereen information, a pro-Shia militia group, revealed photos on its Telegram web page claiming to point out the launcher that attacked the bottom. CNN can not independently confirm the photographs.
The rockets fired on the Al-Asad base have been 122 millimeter, with an extended vary and better firepower than most assaults the US attributes to Iranian-backed militias, in response to a US navy official immediately accustomed to preliminary assessments of the assault. Of the important thing teams within the space with Iranian assist, such a rocket is most frequently utilized by Kata’ib Hezbollah, the official stated.
“There is a significant amount of evidence at the scene that has already been evaluated,” the official stated. The official famous, nonetheless, that “more than 75%” of current assaults have used smaller-scale so-called Katyusha rockets, that are broadly accessible within the space.
Multiple officers stated the US views the usage of the bigger, extra highly effective 122-millimeter rockets as a “message” from the Iranian-backed teams that they don’t seem to be intimidated by the current US airstrike in Syria, the official stated.
The US strikes on the Syrian website killed “up to a handful” of militants, a US official advised CNN on the time.
Kata’ib Hezbollah launched a short assertion the following day, saying the US strikes had killed a fighter “stationed on the Iraqi-Syrian border to protect the land of Iraq and its people from ISIS criminal gangs.”
The group referred to as on the Iraqi parliament to expel US forces within the nation and prosecute “traitors” who conspire with them, and pledged to reply to the US strikes, saying that regardless of hopes, the Biden administration was proving to be no totally different than the Trump administration.
“This barbaric aggression … indicates without any doubt that the aggressive American policies towards our peoples do not change by changing their administration as the deceived hope, and that its ugly face cannot be hidden by the change of masks,” the assertion learn.
“We affirm the legitimate right of our Iraqi people to respond to this cowardly criminal operation, in revenge for our martyrs,” the assertion stated.
Wednesday’s rocket assault comes simply two days forward of a scheduled journey to Iraq by Pope Francis, the primary time a Pope has visited the nation. The Pope can be staying on the Vatican Embassy all through his journey, the Vatican stated on Tuesday.
This story has been up to date with extra developments.