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Rocket attack against Al Asad Air Base communicates response to US airstrikes in eastern Syria

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At approximately 07:20 on 3 March, 10 122mm rockets were launched against Al Asad Air Base in western Anbar province. This facility is a major Iraqi military base hosting US, British, and Danish military personnel. C-RAM missile defensive systems were employed, but the number of intercepts was not publicized. At least one impact was recorded inside the perimeter of the base, damaging one vehicle in a parking area. Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby confirmed that one US contractor “suffered a cardiac episode while sheltering” and died shortly afterward. No other casualties were reported, and no significant damages were reported. Heightened security measures were implemented in the aftermath, including increased CF aviation operations.

Impact in Al Asad Air Base

ISF reportedly located the point of origin in the Bayadir agricultural area of the Baghdadi sub-district, located approximated 19km east of the base. ISF discovered an improvised multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) comprised of a truck rigged with 10 well-concealed launch tubes. Conflicting reports from an unnamed official from the Baghdad Operations Command cited the launch of 13 rockets. However, available images and reporting indicates 10 rockets were likely launched out of an intended total of 10 rockets.

Sabreen News, the primary media outlet affiliated with Iranian-backed groups, released several statements. Sabreen initially reported the launch of eight Katyusha rockets before revising to 14 122mm rockets. Sabreen claimed the C-RAM failed to intercept the rockets, and stated to the effect that impacts affected living quarters at the US military side of the base. The outlet asserted that three US soldiers were killed and subsequently evacuated. Sabreen referenced the reports of one dead from a heart attack, and stated to the effect that this represented a typical example of US efforts to downplay losses along with descriptions of concussion injuries.

No group officially claimed responsibility for the attack, with Iranian-backed groups apparently preferring to maintain some semblance of plausible deniability. However, one of the more prominent groups suspected of involvement strongly praised the attack. “We congratulate the Iraqi resistance for the heroic operation on the base of evil in Ayn al-Assad,” Abu Ali al-Aksari, a security official for Kataib Hezbollah, said in a statement on 3 March. “We advise our sons to continue this approach to expel the killers and scum from our sanctified land,” he added.

For further discussion, images and analysis, please see the full report.

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