Rocket attack at Baghdad airport kills Iraqi paramilitary members

At least five members of an Iraqi paramilitary group and two of their “guests” were killed when rockets believed to be fired by US forces hit their vehicles, as they were traveling at Baghdad’s international airport.

Sources from the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) told Al Jazeera that the rockets destroyed two vehicles carrying “high profile guests”, who had arrived at the airport and were being escorted by a PMF public relations official.

The identities of the PMF members and guests have not been released.

Al Jazeera’s Osama bin Javaid, reporting from Baghdad, said the incident appeared to be a targeted strike.

PMF sources believe that the strike was carried out by the US.

AFP news agency, meanwhile, reported that at least eight individuals were killed in the attack.

Charles Lister@Charles_ListerReplying to @Charles_Lister

Reports – An “American” drone strike just killed the #PMU’s “Head of Protocol,” Mohammed Reda al-Jabri, along with 2 aides & 3 “guests” (i.e. #IRGC) on their exit from #Baghdad Airport.

If that’s accurate, the #Trump admin just ratcheted up the ante in #Iraq in a big way.

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2906:29 PM – Jan 2, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacy258 people are talking about this

Iraq‘s Security Media Cell, which releases information regarding Iraqi security, earlier said that at least three Katyusha rockets landed near the cargo hall of the airport.

Witnesses in the area also told Al Jazeera that they could hear the sounds of sirens and helicopters in the air following the pre-dawn attack.

The area of the incident has been cordoned off, authorities told Al Jazeera, but the international airport remains in operation.

Our correspondent added that the attack took place near the base of the US-led coalition forces.

The attack occurred amid tensions with the US after an Iran-backed militia and other protesters breached the United States‘s Embassy in Baghdad.

The attack at the embassy on New Year’s Eve was in response to a deadly US airstrike that killed 25 forces of the PMF, also known as the Hashd al-Shaabi group.

More details to follow.