The attacks came in retaliation for last week’s U.S. killing of top military Gen. Qasem Soleimani, head of the Revolutionary Guards’ elite Quds Force, along with Abu-Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy leader of the Iraqi Hashd al-Shaabi group, and eight others in a drone airstrike near Baghdad, Iraq’s capital.
Roughly 5,000 U.S. troops have remained deployed in Iraq since the U.S. cobbled a coalition together in 2014 with the stated aim of fighting the terrorist group Daesh/ISIS.
U.S. troops also use Balad Air Base in the northern Saladin province.
Harir Air Base, which came to the forefront after U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision last year to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, is among the bases where U.S. troops are deployed in Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdish region.
Harir is seen as very safe for the U.S. as it is located in an area where the Daesh/ISIS threat is less potent than other parts of Iraq.
The Harir base is also strategically important given that it is the closest U.S. military base to the Syrian border.
Another U.S. military base is located at Erbil Airport.
The total number of U.K. soldiers and civilian personnel is estimated at around 1,400, including additional deployments made to combat Daesh.