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Feb 22, 2021
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About the consequences of one shelling

Few days in a new democratic Iraq go without terrorist attacks and attacks. February 15 was no exception: an improvised explosive device was detonated in the suburbs of Baghdad on the route of an American convoy, and a Turkish military base in the province of Dohuk was fired upon. On the evening of February 15, 21 unguided rockets of 107 mm caliber were fired at a large NATO base located near the airport of the capital of the Kurdish autonomy of Erbil. As a result of the attack, one American (a private contractor) was killed and eight were injured, including one soldier. These are far from the most severe one-time losses of the American-led coalition in Iraq, but even repeated shelling and attempts to storm the US embassy in Baghdad did not cause such a nervous reaction. Just hours after the attack, the head of the State Department, Anthony Blinken, held emergency telephone conversations with Kurdistan’s Prime Minister Masroor Barzani and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kazimi. The next day, the US Secretary of State and the foreign ministers of France, Germany, Italy and Britain, speaking together, angrily condemned the missile attack in Erbil. This was followed by statements from the Norwegian Foreign Ministry. Belgium, Poland, Canada, Estonia and several other countries, as well as the UN. On February 18, NATO defense ministers decided to increase the number of military personnel in Iraq eightfold – from 500 to 4,000 people. The missile strike in Erbil “underscores the importance of our work,” said Pentagon chief Lloyd J. Austin III, who hailed the “expanded role of NATO’s mission in Iraq.” Danes in Iraq. Photo: REUTERS / Atef Hassan Washington has long insisted on this “expansion.” At the same time, the White House puts pressure on Baghdad and Erbil, dependent on it. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stressed that the expanded mission will retain the status of a training mission, the leadership will be carried out by Denmark, and the allocated contingents will not take part in military operations. The rationale for the 8-fold increase in NATO military personnel in Iraq is stereotyped: “We are doing this at the invitation of the Iraqi government. There are already a number of bases in Iraq that are using coalition forces and Iraqi troops where we can deploy our instructors. Effective training of the Iraqi army is the best guarantee what [запрещенная в РФ] the terrorist organization “Islamic State” * will no longer be able to return to Iraq. “Recall that the work of the NATO mission in Iraq was blocked in January 2020 after the assassination of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani and a high-ranking leader of the Iraqi” people’s militia. “Tehran has repeatedly stressed that it is not will leave this crime unpunished, confirming it with a deed; suffice it to recall the IRGC’s missile strikes on coalition targets, including Iraq’s largest base, Ain al-Assad in Anbar province. Not surprisingly, many linked the rocket attack on February 15 to Tehran, although they denied their involvement there. Responsibility for the shelling was claimed by a previously unknown group. All the more loud it looks like a commotion. All night long American combat helicopters patrolled the adjacent districts of the autonomy’s capital; MLRS, mounted in the back of a pickup truck. After completing the shooting (while three shells did not come off the guides), the attackers blew up the car and fled. Remains of an Iranian-made Fajr-1 107-mm NUR homemade launcher The reaction of the command of the base in Erbil was close to panic – the F-35 fighters, which were outside the caponiers, were raised in alarm and flew to the Ain al-Assad base … Increased security measures were also urgently introduced there: access to the inside of the perimeter for the Iraqis was prohibited, an observation balloon with electronic warfare equipment was raised into the air, and air defense systems were put on full alert. The Americans did not forget that this base was the target of Iranian missile strikes, but then the Iranian leadership called them only a slap in the face, hinting that retaliation was still waiting in the wings. In addition, the Iranian media actively discussed then that the F-35 from the Erbil airbase could become an indirect cause of the tragedy with the Ukrainian civilian aircraft. At that time, relations between the United States and Iran were at a boiling point, and the six newest fighters that were making maneuvers along the border with Iran, periodically dropping to ultra-low heights, were a clear provocation. The Americans advertised these aircraft as invisible to radars, and the Iranian air defense missile system’s crew made a fatal mistake by shooting down a passenger airliner. The shelling of Erbil airport, where the F-35s of the US Air Force are based on a permanent basis, showed that the fifth generation aircraft, costing about $ 13 million, could become an affordable target for MLRS in a pickup truck costing several thousand dollars. There are a huge number of such pickups in Iraq, and installing a rocket launcher in the back is a matter of one and a half to two hours. There really is a reason to think. US Air Force F-35A fighters in flight Ostrota added commentary by renowned Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. In his opinion, Turkish military operations on the Iraqi borders, tensions in Sinjar, rocket attacks on Erbil and violence in the southern provinces of Iraq are all attempts to cancel or at least postpone the planned visit of the Pope to Iraq. Al-Sadr called on the Iraqi government to approach this with “caution and wisdom.” However, an Iraqi Foreign Ministry spokesman confirmed that Pope Francis will arrive in Baghdad on March 5. On his first ever trip to Iraq, the head of the Vatican will visit Najaf to meet with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the highest Shiite spiritual leader, and then travel to Kurdistan, where he will meet with Kurdish officials and hold mass in Erbil. As the dark joke on social networks is, the Pope will bless the NATO contingent – you will not find other Catholics in Iraq. Cover photo: REUTERS / Abdullah Dhiaa Al-deen

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