At approximately 23:45 on 18 June, a single 107mm Katyusha rocket impacted approximately 200 meters south of the OiLSERV camp location on Contractor’s Row, located in northwestern Basra Province. No casualties or material damage were initially reported as a result. Shortly following this attack, at approximately 03:40 on 19 June, as many as three 107mm rockets impacted several buildings within Burjesiyah in the Zubayr Oil Field area in western Basra Province. At least one round damaged an accommodation building associated with the Basra Drilling Company, and another impacted nearby on the road near Oasis Camp, operated by ExxonMobil. According to a local source, at least two and possibly three local national employees were injured as a result.
Significantly, the 18 and 19 June attacks form the first indirect fire incidents intentionally launched against an IOC site in Basra Province in recent history, reflecting a substantial escalation of current regional tensions between the US and Iran. The Mayor of Zubayr Abbas Maher stated that he believed Iran-backed groups had specifically targeted ExxonMobil to “send a message” to the US. As suggested, the characteristics and current reporting patterns strongly suggest an Iranian-backed Shi’a militia was responsible.
Indirect fire attacks against US interests in Basra Province are rare but not unprecedented. At approximately 01:20 on 28 September 2018, three Katyusha rockets directed at the US Consulate Basra impacted in the vicinity of the perimeter of the Basra International Airport. No casualties or damages were reported. The ensuing withdrawal of US government employees and the lack of any US military presence in Basra Province, likely provoked the targeting of a US commercial operation and conforms with Iran’s strategic messaging.