The rocket attack on the Ayn Al-Asad airbase, west of Al-Anbar, last Wednesday ended the peaceful state that prevailed the governorate’s cities and the upper Euphrates areas from Hit to the border with Syria and Jordan.
Security and local officials in the governorate stated that the rocket attack had restored security tensions, especially after the redeployment of armed factions in western Al-Anbar.
The Iraqi security forces tightened security measures at the entrances and exits of the governorate’s cities and imposed a 15 kilometers security cordon around the airbase. The new measures aroused alarm and fear among the citizens concerned about an escalation by the anti-US factions in the governorate.
Al-Baghdadi district director, Sharhabeel Al-Obaidi, said that the Ayn Al-Asad airbase attack was the second of its kind – after an attack early last year. The perpetrators of the two attacks have not been identified, “The vehicles used in the attacks are locally manufactured, and explosive detectors have not been able to detect them inside checkpoints”.
He added that the U.S. forces are immune to any attack inside the airbase, “What we fear is if those rockets fall on populated areas adjacent to Ayn Al-Asad, which could cause civilian casualties. The attacks also represent a threat to our 15,000 Iraqi troops inside the airbase”.
“I hope our territories do not turn into a battleground for the forces inside the governorate. Any force that wants to deviate from the aim she came for, which is combating terrorism, is not welcome in the governorate, and we will demand the parliament to vote on dismissing them before it takes the wrong turn.”
“Iraq is sovereign and has a strong security apparatus. I do not think that attacks by National Coalition forces or some armed factions will make Al-Anbar an arena for conflicts between both forces”, said Major-General Tahsin Al-Khafaji, spokesman for joint operations.
There is no arena for conflict in Iraq
“We will not allow any area of Iraq to be a scene of conflicts between any forces inside the country. There is great interest from the heads of the security services, led by the commander-in-chief of the Iraqi armed forces, PM Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, to avoid any chaos”, Al-Khafaji told Shafaq News agency.
Furthermore, he said that National Coalition forces could not carry out any operation inside the Iraqi territory without the joint operations’ approval. Weapons outside the state’s control are being pursued and eliminated under the supervision of the Prime Minister.
“The Pope’s visit to Iraq with a message of peace to spread security and safety. The country will witness many developments in the next few days, especially since Iraq is the focus of the world’s attention now after this visit”, Al-Khafaji said.
“As long as the National Coalition forces maintain their role in Al-Anbar, there will be no contact with any of the forces in al-Anbar, unless they try to cross the lines drawn to them, then there will be a respond out of self-defense”, al-Hashd al-Shaabi forces (P.M.F.) commander, Ali Al-Mudhaffar, told Shafaq News agency.
Al-Mudhaffar added that the U.S. is not something new and the biggest proof of that is their assassination of General Qasem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis in an airstrike more than a year ago.
“American forces in all parts of the world are known to seek bloodshed and oppression, so how can it not be easy for them to kill some soldiers who came from the far south to stand with their brothers in the West”, Al-Mudhaffar added.
The U.S.A. and Iran
According to The Iraqi security expert, Brig. Gen. A’yad Al-Tawfan, “Iraq has become a battleground between The United States and Iran, as evidenced by the attack that targeted Erbil airport a while ago – especially the north-western part of it, which is used by The U.S. forces as its base – and last year witnessed the bombing of the bases of Harir and then Ayn Al-Asad, after the assassination of Soleimani and Al-Muhandis.
“Erbil is not accessible to militias, neither the airport nor the Harir Base. However, Ayn Al-Asad is within their reach. It is one of the most important military bases in Iraq, as it includes a very important wing for helicopters, a runway for fighter jets, and hosts the U.S. engineering team and advanced combat units within the missions of the Global Coalition forces led by Washington”, Al-Tawfan added.