Rocket fire struck near the Erbil International Airport in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region at about 1:30 p.m. EST (9:30 p.m. AST) on Monday, Feb. 15, 2021. Initial reports from the U.S. coalition in Iraq indicate the attack left one civilian contractor dead and at least five wounded, including a U.S. service member.
Wayne Marotto, a spokesperson for the coalition, used Twitter to state “indirect fire” hit coalition forces in the region’s capital Erbil. When noting the casualties, he stated the private contractor is not an Iraqi but could not disclose their nationality.
Delovan Jalal, the head of the Kurdistan regional government health ministry, stated there were five wounded in the attack, and one was in critical condition.
Sources for the Kurdish security report at least three rockets landed near the airport. Reuters states their “reporters heard several loud explosions and saw a fire break out near the airport.”
Part of the international alliance combating ISIS (ISIL), including U.S. troops, is stationed near the airport. In response to the rocket fire, the airport reportedly shut down and halted flights.
Both Iraqi President Barham Salih and Prime Minister of the North Iraq Kurdish Region Masrour Barzani took to Twitter to denounce the attack — a “dangerous escalation.”
Barzani tweeted that he had instructed the security services to investigate the rocket attack. He wrote that he spoke with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa as-Kadhimi about cooperation methods and the need to identify the outlaws responsibly. Barzani’s tweet included this statement:
I condemn in the strongest terms tonight’s rocket attacks on Erbil. I urge all Kurdistanis to remain calm.
Aljazeera reports an investigation has begun. The security forces request people stay away from the scene and remain safely in their homes.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
Reuters: Iraq rocket attack kills contractor, wounds U.S. service member – U.S. coalition; by John Davison and Ahmed Rasheed
Aljazeera: Erbil rocket attack kills contractor, wounds others
Featured and Top Image by Petty Officer 1st Class David M. Votroubek Courtesy of The U.S. Army’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Jeffery Beall’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License