US soldiers stand outside a joint base with Iraqi army south of Mosul, Iraq. File photo/AP
A barrage of Katyusha rockets targeted an Iraqi air base that houses American troops south of the city of Mosul on Friday, officials said. No members of the US-led coalition were injured.
The rocket fire appears to have originated in Mosul and struck the Iraqi army base in Qayyara, about 60 kilometres (38 miles) south of Mosul, where coalition forces are helping the Iraqis battle remnants of the Daesh group, Iraqi security officials said. They spoke to the media did so on condition of anonymity under regulations.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility nor was it clear if any of the rockets struck the base.
Iraqi officials did not immediately say whether there were any casualties, though a coalition spokeswoman later said no coalition troops had been injured.
"Coalition forces are in Iraq at the invitation of the Government of Iraq to defeat ISIS remnants," US Marine Corps Capt. Marisa Roberts said, using a popular acronym for the Daesh group. "We will not be deterred by these attacks and maintain the right to defend ourselves."
Iraq announced victory over Daesh 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 US 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 Daesh after it seized vast areas in the north and west of the country, including Iraq's second largest city, Mosul. A US-led coalition provided crucial air support as Iraqi forces regrouped and drove Daesh out in a costly three-year campaign.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying they targeted three vehicles of "foreigners" as they tried to enter the heavily guarded Shashdarak area where the Afghan national security authorities have offices.
Witnesses and an AFP reporter also described hearing gunshots immediately after the blast at the electronic identification registration centre in Jalalabad, capital of Nangarhar province, where both the Taliban and the Daesh group are active.
US Defence Secretary Mark Esper arrived in Baghdad, as chaos swirled along the Turkey-Syria border because the Iraq military said on Tuesday that US forces crossing into Iraq as part of a pull-out from Syria do not have permission to stay and can only be there in transit.
The Roads and Transport Authority further said it seeks to provide extensive support to community members during this challenging period and stressed that everyone’s cooperation is critical to combat the pandemic.
Two centres would be conducting the test from the car, while the third would be for laboratory analysis, he added.
The measures will be effective from 8.00 pm on Saturday, 4 April, 2020 for a period of two weeks, subject to renewal.