Erbil Airport in Iraqi Kurdistan was attacked on Tuesday evening by rockets, another sign of escalating violence in Iraq.
In Iraqi Kurdistan, Erbil Airport Attacked By Rockets + Drones
Pro-Iranian militias have stepped up attacks against American interests in Iraq, including a drone attack against the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad earlier this week. Erbil Airport (EBL) is used a a staging ground and regional headquarters for U.S. forces. Over the proceeding months, it has been attacked numerous times by drones, most recently in late June on an attack against a hangar thought to be used by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
Last night’s attack was via rocket and drone, sending occupants for cover and briefly pausing passenger operations. Witnesses reported at least three drones and 20 rockets were utilized.
The increase in violence comes after President Joe Biden ordered airstrikes in Syria against pro-Iranian militias in late June. Attacks against the Assad regime in Syria and the United States in Iraq have increased from weekly to daily occurrences. Iranian-backed militias are using Nineveh, roughly 120 kilometers from Erbil, as a staging ground for their attacks.
Thus far, the U.S. Department of Defense has downplayed the attack, telling the Jerusalem Post:
“We are aware of reporting of a UAS incident in the vicinity of Erbil, Iraq. At this time, initial reports indicate no structural damage, injuries or casualties.”
Having visited Erbil in 2011 and enjoyed fascinating conversations with residents, Erbil is near and dear to my heart. It is tragic to observe what appears to be a never-ending cycle of violence in a region that has been relatively tranquil even during the most active phases of the Iraq War. And indeed, I realize this simplifies the situation.
Erbil Airport came under attack yesterday as Iranian-backed forces increase attacks against government forces in Syria and Saudi Arabia as well as American forces which remain in Iraq. Although the airport was briefly closed, flight operations have resumed.