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Rocket attack on US military base in Iraq kills civilian contractor and wounds five

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Smoke rises over Erbil, Iraq, after reports of mortar shells landing near Erbil airport. Photo: Reuters/Thaier al-Sudani.

Smoke rises over Erbil, Iraq, after reports of mortar shells landing near Erbil airport. Photo: Reuters/Thaier al-Sudani.

Smoke rises over Erbil, Iraq, after reports of mortar shells landing near Erbil airport. Photo: Reuters/Thaier al-Sudani.

A rocket attack at a US-led military base in Kurdish northern Iraq on Monday killed a civilian contractor and wounded five other people including a US service member, according to initial reports, the US coalition in Iraq said.

It was the most deadly attack to hit US-led forces for almost a year in Iraq, where tensions have escalated between US forces, their Iraqi and Kurdish allies on one side and Iran-aligned militias on the other.

A coalition spokesman said on Twitter the attack hit coalition forces in the Kurdish regional capital of Erbil, and that more details would follow.

Kurdish security sources said at least three rockets landed near Erbil International Airport in the autonomous region late at night. Reuters reporters heard several loud explosions and saw a fire break out near the airport.

US troops occupy a military base adjacent to the civilian airport.

A statement from the Kurdish interior ministry said a number of rockets were fired towards Erbil and its outskirts around 9:30pm. local time and some people were wounded, but it offered no further details.

A group calling itself Saraya Awliya al-Dam claimed responsibility for the attack on the US-led base, saying it targeted the "American occupation" in Iraq. It provided no evidence for its claim.

Groups that some Iraqi officials say have links with Iran have claimed a series of rocket and roadside attacks against coalition forces, contractors working for the coalition and US installations including the embassy in Baghdad in recent months.

The last deadly attack to target the coalition killed one British and two American personnel in March last year.

Tension between the United States and Iran sent the Middle East to the edge of a full-scale confrontation in January 2020 after a US drone strike killed Iranian military mastermind Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad.

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