(NBC) – Ten rockets were fired at an Iraqi military base hosting U.S.-led coalition troops. It’s the latest in a series of rocket attacks in Iraq with this one just days before the pope is due to visit the country.
The Pentagon says a U.S. contractor died of a heart attack during Wednesday’s rocket attack.
The target was a U.S. coalition military base in western Iraq, which has been hit before.
Video released by the Pentagon Monday shows one of 16 missile strikes on the base last year. They injured dozens of us troops.
Iraq’s Shi’ite militias, backed by Iran, have stepped up attacks on the U.S.-led coalition recently, firing missiles at an airport base in Iraq last month that killed a contractor and injured a U.S. soldier.
In retaliation for that attack, President Biden ordered his first airstrikes against the militias and issued this warning to Iran.
For the Iranian-backed militias, this is the man they seek to avenge: Qasim Soleimani, leader of Iran’s elite Quds force, killed in an airstrike last year ordered by President Trump. He took action after militias launched repeated attacks on U.S. troops.
Wednesday, Iran may be testing the resolve of President Biden, provoking him even after he signaled he’ll talk to Iran about a nuclear deal.
Wednesday morning’s attack comes just two days before Pope Francis is due to become the first pope to visit Iraq. He asked people to pray for the success of a visit to areas once controlled by ISIS that are fraught with danger.
The choice for President Biden is: does he retaliate again or simply buy his time? The militias are clearly trying to escalate this and they take their orders from Iran. The Middle East is already proving to be a tough and early challenge for Joe Biden.
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