One dead as several rockets slam into military base in Iraq

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Baghdad

A civilian contractor in Iraq was killed on Wednesday after at least 10 rockets slammed into a military base hosting US-led coalition troops, security sources revealed.

The attack on the sprawling Ain al-Assad base in Iraq´s western desert comes after several weeks of escalating US-Iran tensions on Iraqi soil.

It also comes just two days before the first-ever papal visit to the country by Pope Francis, who said he would still make the visit so as not to “disappoint” the Iraqi people.

Ain al-Assad hosts both Iraqi forces and US-led coalition troops helping fight the Islamic State group, as well as the unmanned drones the coalition uses to surveil jihadist sleeper cells.

Coalition spokesman Colonel Wayne Marotto confirmed that 10 rockets hit the base at 7:20 am (0420 GMT) while Iraqi security forces said they had found the platform from which 10 “Grad-type rockets” hit the Ain al-Assad base.

Western security sources told AFP the rockets were Iranian-made Arash models, which are 122mm artillery rockets and heavier than those seen in similar attacks.

“One civilian contractor died of a heart attack during the attack,” a high-level security source told AFP, adding that he could not confirm the contractor´s nationality.

The death marks the third fatality in rocket attacks in recent weeks after rockets targeting US-led troops in the Kurdish regional capital of Arbil left two people dead.

Days later, more rockets hit a US military contracting company working north of the capital and the US embassy in Baghdad, but only injuries were reported. —AFP