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Three Katyusha rockets land near Baghdad’s airport

The Iraqi military said no one was injured or killed in the attack near Baghdad's airport late Monday.
A veiw of  Baghdad international Airport, after Iraq has suspended flights at its domestic airports as the coronavirus spreads, in Baghdad, Iraq March 17, 2020. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani - RC2PLF9PTROE

Three Katyusha rockets landed near Baghdad's airport late Monday, according to the Iraqi military, in the latest in a flurry of similar attacks in the capital this month. 

The military said Tuesday a rocket launcher was discovered in the Al-Makaseb neighborhood, southeast of the airport. No one was hurt and there were no reports of damage. 

The rocket attack is one of several this month and the second to target the Baghdad International Airport. On June 8, a rocket the military said was launched from south of the airport landed without causing any casualties. 

Days later, on the eve of a highly anticipated meeting between American and Iraqi officials over the future of US troops in the country, a rocket landed near the US Embassy inside Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone. Then, over the weekend, Iraqi security forces thwarted a separate rocket attack Sunday near Camp Taji, a military base north of Baghdad that houses US troops.  

No group has claimed responsibility for the spate of rockets, but US officials have blamed similar incidents in recent months on Iranian-backed Iraqi militias. 

In March, a barrage of rockets struck Camp Taji, killing two Americans and one British service member. The Pentagon accused Kataib Hezbollah and retaliated with strikes on the Shiite group’s weapons depots. Later that month, the US Treasury Department sanctioned Shaykh Adnan al-Hamidawi, the militia’s special operations commander. 

Kataib Hezbollah and other Iran-backed militias operating outside the control of the Iraqi government “remain a significant problem,” David Schenker, US assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, said following the top-level strategic talks in Baghdad last week. 

“This rocket being fired at the United States, at the embassy in Baghdad, highlights exactly why we have to have this strategic dialogue. This is not normal for friendly states in foreign capitals to have their embassies routinely shelled,” Schenker said.  

The Baghdad airport targeted in Monday’s rocket attack was also the site of the US drone strike in January on Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s Quds Force. The air raid, which also killed militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, prompted Iran to launch a ballistic missile attack that left dozens of American troops with traumatic brain injuries. 

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