Explosives-laden drone targets U.S. forces at Iraq’s Erbil airport -Kurdish officials

ERBIL, Iraq (Reuters) — A drone dropped explosives near U.S. forces stationed at Erbil airport in northern Iraq late on Wednesday, Kurdish officials said, with no immediate reports of casualties.

It was the first known attack carried out by an unmanned aerial drone against U.S. forces in Erbil, amid a steady stream of rocket attacks on bases hosting U.S. forces and the embassy in Baghdad that Washington blames on Iran-backed militias.

The interior ministry of the autonomous Kurdistan regional government, based in Erbil, said in a statement the drone was carrying TNT which it used to target the U.S. forces. It said no one was hurt in the attack.

A group that Western and some Iraqi officials say is aligned with Iran praised the attack, but did not explicitly claim it.

A barrage of rockets hit the same U.S.-led military base in the Erbil International Airport vicinity in February, killing a non-American contractor working with the U.S. military.

Shortly before Wednesday’s attack in Erbil, at least two rockets landed on and near a base to the west of the city that hosts Turkish forces, Iraqi security officials said.

Sirens at the U.S. consulate in Erbil blared during the airport attack, witnesses said.

Turkey also has troops in Iraq both as part of a NATO contingent and a force that has attacked Kurdish separatist militants in the north. The Iran-backed militias oppose both the presence of the United States and Turkey and demand a full withdrawal of all foreign troops.

Reporting by Ali Sultan and Amina Ismail; additional reporting by Alaa Swilam in Cairo; writing by John Davison in Baghdad; Editing by Leslie Adler and Grant McCool

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