An unguided Katyusha rocket was fired at Baghdad’s international airport Sunday night near where American troops and diplomats are housed one night after the U.S. military shot one down, according to U.S. officials.
While nobody was injured or killed and the damage appeared minimal, it marked the seventh rocket attack on the airport in less than a month, the officials told Fox News, accusing Iranian-backed militias for the attack.
The increased attacks against U.S. and coalition forces prompted the American military recently to deploy C-RAM [“Counter-rocket, artillery and mortar”] — which could fire 3,000 rounds of 20-mm high-explosive tracer rounds per minute — to protect the Green Zone housing the U.S. Embassy.
Early Sunday morning, the American C-RAM shot down a Katyusha rocket for the first time since it was deployed to Iraq’s capital city, according to U.S. officials.
Rocket debris fell into a residential area after it was shot down.
“We have a right to defend ourselves,” the official said.
The deployment of the defensive weapon system took place after consultations with the Iraqi government, the official said.
C-RAM is the land-based version of the CWIS [close-in weapons system] which U.S. warships have used for decades.
C-RAM has protected American troops in bases in Iraq for many years dating back to the Iraq War.
A statement by the U.S.-led coalition said another rocket attack early Sunday morning resulted in four Iraqi casualties.
“This attack is one more illustration of the indiscriminate nature of these attacks, how [Iranian-backed militias] harm Iraq’s sovereignty and security, and our need for self-defense capabilities,” the statement read.
Back in early May, Iraq’s Parliament picked an American-backed former intelligence chief, Mustafa al-Kadhimi, 53, as the new prime minister.
In his short time in office, Kadhimi has appeared to take a harder line against the Iranian-backed militias at the urging of top U.S. military officials following a series of rocket attacks against American troops inside Iraq.
Late last month, Iraqi forces raided a base in southern Baghdad used by the Iranian-backed militia Kataib Hezbollah, accused of launching the rocket attacks against U.S. and allied forces in recent months.
But, just days later, 14 members of Kataib Hezbollah were released on bail, Reuters reported, adding that it was the most brazen action taken against the terrorist group in years by the Iraqi government.
One rocket attack in March killed two American service members and a British Army medic, prompting retaliatory airstrikes by American jets against five weapons depots used to store the rockets.
There have been roughly 5,000 American troops deployed to Iraq.