ERBIL-A rocket attack at a US -led Coalition military base in Kurdish northern Iraq on Monday killed a civilian contractor and wounded five other people including a USA service member, according to initial reports, the USA coalition in Iraq said.
Under former United States president Donald Trump, Washington had vowed that the killing of an American national in such a rocket attack would prompt retaliation against Iran, whom U.S. military officials accuse of backing the Iraqi militia groups behind the strikes.
The last deadly attack to target the coalition killed one British and two American personnel in March previous year.
In recent months, attacks targeting US forces have become less frequent, but analysts and diplomats have suggested that Iran may now seek to test President Biden's administration in Washington.
Tension between the United States and Iran sent the Middle East to the edge of a full-scale confrontation in January 2020 after a USA drone strike killed Iranian military mastermind Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad.
Days after that strike, the Iranian government launched missile attacks against United States forces at the Ain al Assad air base in Iraq's Anbar province, wounding more than 100 troops.
At least two rockets fell on the worldwide airport in Irbil and another overflew it, Kurdistan's Directorate General of Counter Terrorism said in a Facebook post. The December 2019 killing of a USA civilian contractor in a rocket attack in Kirkuk sparked a tit-for-tat fight on Iraqi soil that brought the country to the brink of a proxy war.
At least three rockets hit areas between the civilian Irbil worldwide airport in the semi-autonomous Kurdish-run region and the nearby base hosting US troops at 9:30 p.m. It was not clear whether anti-rocket defense systems installed at the base were activated by Monday's attack.
Marotto did not reveal the nationality of the dead contractor.
There are reports of civilians being injured in the attack.
Broken glass is seen at the Bright Castle Motors building on Feb 15, 2021.
The attack was claimed online by a shadowy group calling itself "Awliyaa al-Dam", or "Guardians of Blood". No one immediately claimed responsibility.
Former President Donald Trump said at the time that the strike was in response to the threat Iran and Soleimani were planning to blow up the U.S. Embassy in Iraq, which had just been attacked. Mr Blinken later condemned the attack.
A statement from the Kurdish interior ministry said a number of rockets were fired towards Erbil and its outskirts around 9:30 p.m. local time and some people were wounded but it offered no further details.
Following a deadly rocket attack at a base near Kirkuk that killed a USA civilian contractor in late 2019, the Pentagon launched airstrikes on militia sites, leading to a series of escalations with the militias and Iran in early 2020.
But Blinken's call for an investigation marks a shift away from that policy under President Joe Biden's new administration.
Iraqi leaders have traveled to Teheran to try to persuade Iran to call off attacks, saying conflict between Washington and Teheran left Iraq dangerously in the middle.