Rockets land near Halliburton oil site in Iraq's Basra

Rockets land near Halliburton oil site in Iraq's Basra
Rockets land near Halliburton oil site in Iraq's Basra

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Rockets landed near a site managed by US oil company Halliburton and state-run companies in Iraq’s southern city of Basra early on Monday, without causing damage or casualties, oil and police sources said.

Police said that three Katyusha rockets landed near the sites at the Burjesia residential and operations headquarters west of Basra at around 3am local time.

Officials from the state-run Basra Oil Company (BOC), that operates oil production in the south, said the attack did not impact production and export operations.

A rocket launcher and some unused rockets were found in a nearby farmland area, local police said.

Almost all foreign staff have left the country due to the global coronavirus pandemic and so the accommodation was largely empty.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the rocket attack and police said they deployed additional forces to carry out search operation in the area.

The attacks came as US forces withdrew from Al Taqaddum Air Base and handed over operations to Iraqi forces over the weekend.

“The transfer of Taqaddum (Habbaniya) air base is another step forward in the ongoing partnership between Iraqi Security Forces and the anti-ISIS international military Coalition,” Brig Gen Vincent Barker, coalition's director of sustainment, said in a statement.

Over the last month, the coalition has transferred four bases to Iraqi security forces as it consolidates forces into a smaller number of key locations.

"This wouldn’t be possible without the Iraqi security forces’ proven capability to bring the fight to ISIS," Brig Gen Barker said.

Coalition spokesman, Col Miles Caggins, said the withdrawal came "after months of planning".

At least 500 coalition troops had departed the air base, transferring $3.5 million in property to the Iraqi government.

Col Caggins said that the Iraqi Ministry of Defence "remains strong against ISIS in Anbar Province"

Al Taqqadum Air Base has hosted US Marines, Italian, Canadian and Spanish forces.

The withdrawal is a result of the victory over ISIS but also in response to repeated attacks by Iran-backed Iraqi militias leading the US to change footing in the country. The current coronavirus outbreak is also thought to be speeding the process as it halts most training programmes for Iraqi soldiers.

Some Western troops are being pulled out of Iraq altogether and those who remain are being taken to larger facilities.

Tensions between Washing and Tehran has increased during the last few months in Iraq after the killing of Iranian general Qassem Suliemani and Kataib Hezbollah founder Abu Mahdi Al Muhandis.

They were killed in a US operation in Baghdad in early January which triggered a series of tick-for tack attacks between the two states in Iraq.

Several US soldiers and contractors, as well as a British soldier, have been killed in attacks since the start of the year.

Updated: April 6, 2020 01:41 PM

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