Unknown militants have fired three rockets at Baghdad International Airport close to part of the airport that houses U.S. military forces and Iraqi partners.
Local sources told The Daily Beast that the attack consisted of three Katyusha rockets which hit the outer limits of the airport near a base which housed the advisory units for the U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition.
Several sources confirmed to The Daily Beast that Mohammed Rida al-Jabri, a senior member of Iraq’s Iranian-backed militia force, the Popular Mobilization Forces, was killed outside Baghdad airport late Thursday along with an unknown number of guests. It’s unclear yet whether al-Jabri and his associates were killed in the reported Katyusha rocket strike or as part of a separate incident.
Iraqi officials reportedly closed the airport following the attack and locals reported that U.S. military helicopters could be seen flying overhead afterwards.
Social media users posted a number of pictures and videos purporting to show a burning vehicle outside the airport perimeter late Thursday.
The incident comes amid a series of rocket attacks against U.S. military facilities in Iraq that have ratcheted up tensions between American forces and Iranian-backed militias in the country.
The attacks started this summer as Iran mounted a pushback campaign against the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” policy against Tehran, an effort that U.S. officials say included covert attacks against Gulf oil shipments and an increase in Iranian missile and drone attacks against energy facilities in Saudi Arabia.
Thursday’s attack closely resembles a similar incident in mid-December when rocket fire aimed at Baghdad International Airport injured five members of Iraq’s Counter Terrorism Service, a special operations unit which has fought closely and trained alongside American commandos.