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At least three rockets fired at Erbil, killing contractor at Coalition airbase and wounding nine other people

Barzani, Blinken speak by phone after attack
Screenshot of a rocket landing near the Naz City apartment complex in Erbil on February 15, 2021. (Screenshot obtained from CCTV/NRT Digital Media)
2021-02-15

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SULAIMANI — At least three rockets hit locations on the north side of Erbil city on Monday evening (February 15) just after 9:30 p.m. local time (6:30 p.m. UTC), killing one person and wounding nine others.

The Kurdistan Counterterrorism Unit, which is affiliated with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), said that two rockets fell inside Erbil International Airport, where a large airbase used by the International Coalition is located, while another landed outside the airport near Gulan Street and the Naz City apartment complex.

Later, Spokesperson for the Coalition Colonel Wayne Marotto said in a tweet that one civilian contractor was killed and five civilian contractors and one US service member were wounded by indirect fire on the Coalition base.

The Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) Ministry of Health said that three civilians outside the base were also wounded in the attack, including a guard for a consulate located near where one of the rockets landed who suffered burns from sparks, a refugee from northeastern Syria who was working at a livestock market, and a third man who was also at the market.

The Kurdistan Counterterrorism Unit later said it found the alleged launcher and released photographs of a battered vehicle and 107mm rocket tubes, but did not say where it was located.

KRG Prime Minister Masrour Barzani said in a tweet that he “condemn[ed] in the strongest terms tonight’s rocket attacks on Erbil.”

“I urge all Kurdistanis to remain calm,” Barzani said, adding that he had spoken with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi on ways to “cooperate and identify the outlaws behind this terror attack.”

Later he and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke by phone and “agreed to coordinate closely in the investigation.”

Blinken released a statement overnight saying that the US was “outraged” by the attack.

“We express our condolences to the loved ones of the civilian contractor killed in this attack, and to the innocent Iraqi people and their families who are suffering these ruthless acts of violence,” he said.

“[We] pledge our support for all efforts to investigate and hold accountable those responsible,” the secretary of state added.

In a statement on Tuesday, Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani called on the UN Security Council to take the threats of the attack seriously and work to prevent them by encouraging the federal government to implement the constitution in general and Article 140 in particular.

Earlier, Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) Co-President Lahur Sheikh Jangi tweeted that the attack “endangered the lives of our citizens and our security” and called “upon the relevant authorities to investigate these attacks and hold those responsible to account.”

“We strongly condemn the attack on Erbil and its people, also the diplomatic missions and international forces,” New Generation Movement President Shaswar Abdulwahid said in a tweet.

“We hope people, our guests, and alliance are safe in the region,” he added.

Commercial flights were temporarily halted at the airport.

On September 30, a group within the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) fired six rockets in the direction of Erbil International Airport, which landed without causing any casualties or significant damage.

(NRT Digital Media)

This story was updated on Tuesday at 7:36 a.m. EBL