At least two unguided missiles have hit the K-1 base hosting US troops outside Kirkuk in Iraq. There are no reports of casualties or damage. A similar attack in December that killed a US contractor almost sparked a war with Iran.
Local media and international wires reported the strike on Thursday evening local time. It was unclear who was behind it, though some sources immediately blamed Shia militia Kataib Hezbollah.
It was the first attack on K1 since December 27, when about 30 rockets struck the base, killing one US military contractor. The US blamed that attack on Kataib Hezbollah, and proceeded to bomb the group. Angry militia members then protested outside the US embassy in Baghdad and tried to storm it.
On January 3, a US drone struck the convoy carrying Kataib Hezbollah officials and General Qassem Soleimani, head of the Quds Force of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Iran retaliated by launching ballistic missiles against two US bases in Iraq on January 8; K1 was not one of them.
The air base is located just northwest of Kirkuk, in northern Iraq. Built by the Iraqi government, the base was taken over by the US following the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq. In 2014, it was briefly captured by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorists, before it was liberated by the Kurdish Peshmerga militias. In 2017, it was taken over by Iraqi special forces. Since then, it has hosted US and other allied personnel training Iraqi and Kurdish troops to fight against IS.
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