News ID: 90115
Publish Date : 11 May 2021 - 21:42
SAMARRA (Dispatches) – U.S. contractor Lockheed Martin has withdrawn its staff from an Iraq base where it had been maintaining the Iraqi army’s F-16 fighter jets, military sources said, after a spate of rocket attacks.
At least five attacks have targeted the Balad air base, where other U.S. companies including Sallyport are also present, since the start of the year.
At least three foreign subcontractors and one Iraqi subcontractor have been wounded.
"On Monday morning, 72 Lockheed Martin technicians left,” a high-ranking Iraqi military official told AFP, while a second confirmed the move.
"The technical team in charge of maintenance of the F-16s left the Balad base for Irbil,” the capital of Iraq’s Kurdistan region, the first source added, requesting anonymity.
The company had told Reuters, "In coordination with the U.S. government and with employee safety as our top priority, Lockheed Martin is relocating our Iraq-based F-16 team.”
Baghdad had sent its national security adviser Qassim Al-Araji to the Balad base last week to try to reassure the American firm, days after the latest salvo.
Balad Airbase has been the target of frequent rocket attacks amid the Iraqis’ frustration with the prolonged presence of U.S. troops on their soil that has caused insecurity.
It was not immediately clear how many contractors had been working on the base or where they would be repositioned.
In another development, a roadside bomb attack struck a convoy carrying logistical equipment belonging to the U.S. military in Iraq’s western province of al-Anbar.
A source told Shafaq news agency that "an explosive device blew up on al-Anbar Highway” on Monday targeting an American convoy, without giving further details.
No group has so far claimed responsibility for the blast, which was the latest in a series of attacks that have targeted U.S. troops in Iraq in recent months, amid rising anti-U.S. sentiment there.
On January 5, 2020, the Iraqi parliament unanimously approved a bill, demanding the withdrawal of all foreign military forces led by the United States from the Arab country.
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