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Rocket attack in Iraq kills U.S. defense contractor

Iraqi violence claims another American life.

A U.S. defense contractor died Friday in northern Iraq from a rocket attack that also injured several U.S. troops and Iraqi personnel, the Pentagon said. The statement did not specify how many were injured or how serious the injuries were, but it said that the attack occurred on an Iraqi military base in Kirkuk.

Up to 30 rockets were fired at the facility, which hosts both U.S. and coalition troops. The U.S. personnel are among the approximately 5,000 U.S. troops that are still stationed in Iraq.

A statement from Operation Inherent Resolve, the name of the U.S.-led mission against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, said that Iraqi security forces are leading the response and investigation. According to Reuters, security forces have found a launchpad for Katyusha rockets inside an abandoned vehicle near the base.

The U.S. military does not reveal the names of contractors killed in Iraq.

Iraq has witnessed increased violence since October, when mass protests broke out against government corruption, unemployment, and inadequate public services. Many civilian protesters died in subsequent clashes with government forces.

A series of attacks against Iraqi military bases occurred earlier this month, as well. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed these attacks on Iranian proxies and warned against any further violence against U.S. or coalition forces.

“We must also use this opportunity to remind Iran’s leaders that any attacks by them, or their proxies of any identity, that harm Americans, our allies, or our interests will be answered with a decisive U.S. response,” Pompeo said on Dec. 13.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the Kirkuk attack.

 

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