A rocket attack targeting an airbase in Iraq’s Kurdistan region late on Monday killed a foreign civilian contractor and wounded five others and a U.S. soldier, the U.S.-led coalition said.
At least three rockets targeted the Kurdish regional capital of Arbil, with one hitting a military complex at the Arbil airport where U.S.-led coalition troops are based.
Coalition spokesman Colonel Wayne Marotto confirmed to AFP that the contractor was not Iraqi, but could not give immediate details on the victim’s nationality.
The attack represents the first time U.S. military or diplomatic installations have been targeted in Iraq in nearly two months.
At around 9:30 pm (1830 GMT), an AFP reporter heard several loud explosions in the northwestern outskirts of Arbil, the capital of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region.
Western military and diplomatic sites have been targeted by dozens of rockets and roadside bomb attacks since the fall of 2019, but most of the violence has taken place in Baghdad.
Both American and Iraqi officials have blamed hardline armed groups, including the pro-Iran faction Kataeb Hezbollah and Asaib Ahl al-Haq.
These groups are vehemently opposed to the U.S.-led coalition, which has been based in Iraq since 2014 to help local forces fight back the Islamic State group.
With IS largely defeated, the coalition has drawn down to under 3,500 forces in total, 2,500 of which are U.S. troops.
Most of those units are concentrated at the military complex at the Arbil airport, a coalition source told AFP.
But most rocket attacks had concentrated on the coalition and U.S. diplomatic personnel based in Baghdad.
In October, the U.S. threatened to close its embassy there if the rocket attacks did not stop, so hardline groups agreed to an indefinite truce.
There have been several violations since then, the most recent of which, prior to Monday night, was a volley of rockets targeting the U.S. embassy on December 20.