BAGHDAD — No coalition troops were injured in a barrage of rockets targeting an Iraqi air base that houses American troops south of the city of Mosul on Friday, according to Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve,
The rocket fire appears to have originated in Mosul and struck the Iraqi army base in Qayyara, about 60 kilometers (38 miles) south of Mosul, where a U.S.-led coalition is helping Iraqi forces battle remnants of the Islamic State group.
“At approximately 7:45 p.m. several rockets impacted the Iraqi’s Qayyarah base," according to a statement emailed to Military Times from Marine Capt. Marisa Roberts, a spokeswoman for CJTFOIR, the Baghdad-based U.S. military headquarters overseeing the fight against Islamic State. "No Coalition troops were injured. We appreciate the Iraqi Security Forces immediate response and investigation. Coalition forces are in Iraq at the invitation of the Government of Iraq to defeat ISIS remnants; we will not be deterred by these attacks and maintain the right to defend ourselves.”
There was no immediate claim of responsibility nor was it clear if any of the rockets struck the base.
Iraq announced victory over ISIS two years ago, but the extremist group is still active through sleeper cells and frequently mount attacks on Iraqi security forces.
Some hard-line Iraqi militias loyal to Iran have recently threatened to carry out attacks against Americans in the country. The U.S. maintains about 5,000 troops in Iraq.
American forces withdrew from Iraq in 2011 but returned in 2014 at the invitation of the government to help battle ISIS after it seized vast areas in the north and west of the country, including Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul. A U.S.-led coalition provided crucial air support as Iraqi forces regrouped and drove ISIS out in a costly three-year campaign.
The attack on Friday came as large parts of Iraq, including the capital of Baghdad and Shiite-majority southern provinces, are engulfed in anti-government protests. Rockets have been fired near the U.S. Embassy in the heavily fortified Green Zone in the Iraqi capital on several occasions recently.
Mosul, which was largely destroyed during the war against the Islamic State group, lies north of Baghdad and has not seen any anti-government protests.