A BARRAGE of rockets has been fired at US forces at Iraq’s Ain al-Asad air base, American officials said.
Several US troops were reportedly injured as tensions explode in the Middle East, with Israel entering its 106th day at war with Hamas and numerous ship attacks by the Houthis in the Red Sea.
It is understood the base, home to American forces in western Iraq, was attacked with “at least a dozen missiles”, a US defence source and an Iraqi police official told AFP.
And a member of Iraq’s security forces was left “seriously injured”.
“Al-Asad airbase was targeted by 15 rockets” fired from Anbar province, which is home to the military base, an Iraqi police official from the region told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.
He said 13 of the projectiles were shot down by anti-air defences but that “two fell on the airbase”.
A US defence official, who also requested anonymity, confirmed that “missiles impacted Al-Asad airbase”, adding that a joint damage assessment was under way with coalition and Iraqi forces.
US officials are yet to determine whether the attack was made by missiles or rockets.
There are roughly 2,500 American troops in Iraq and some 900 in Syria.
An American official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that initial reports indicated that the base was hit by ballistic missiles but left open the possibility the base was hit by rockets, adding an assessment was ongoing.
It comes as US Central Command forces carried out air strikes against a Houthi anti-ship missile.
It was aimed into the Gulf of Aden and was prepared to launch, the US military said.
“US forces determined the missile presented a threat to merchant vessels and US Navy ships in the region, and subsequently struck and destroyed the missile in self-defense,” the US Central Command said in a statement on X.
The Middle East has become a powder keg unsettled by Israel’s ongoing war against Hamas, Iran-backed Houthi rebel attacks in the Red Sea, and recent clashes and strikes between Iran and Pakistan.
The Yemeni rebel group has also guaranteed safe passage for Chinese and Russian ships in the Red Sea, as they continue to wage war on US ships.
Houthi spokesman Muhammed al-Bukhaiti has criticised the US and UK for their role in the operations against Gaza, saying that all vessels in the region are safe as long as they have no links to Israel.
“The madness and idiocy of the USA and UK have played against themselves – now their ships will not be able to use one of the key trade arteries in the world,” Bukhaiti said to Russian paper Izvestia.
“The US and UK will need to stop aggression against Yemen, stop the war in the Gaza Strip and ensure the uninterrupted flow of medicine, fuel and food.
“Only then will we immediately stop all our operations in the Red Sea.
“The war we are waging today is one of a kind in terms of its moral and ethical frontier.
“The whole world sympathises with Yemen’s heroic stand to end the genocide of the Palestinian people.
“Moreover, we are ready to ensure the safety of the passage of their ships in the Red Sea, because free navigation plays a significant role for our country.”
Soon after, the Houthis launched a fresh attack on an American ship in the Gulf of Aden.
In a statement posted to social media, the Houthis claimed that their naval forces carried out an operation against the Chem Ranger “with several appropriate naval missiles, resulting in direct hits”.
The US has since denied this.
The‘s Central Command said the Houthis “launched two anti-ship ballistic missiles at M/V Chem Ranger, a Marshall Island-flagged, US-Owned, Greek-operated tanker” on Thursday night.
“The crew observed the missiles impact the water near the ship. There were no reported injuries or damage to the ship,” the command said in a post on X.