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Daily updates: US interests come under repeated fire in Iraq

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US interests come under repeated fire in Iraq: officials

 



US assets in Iraq have been hit by shelling six times in as many days, officials said Wednesday, amid a tense standoff between Baghdad's key allies, Washington and Tehran.

The attacks came as the US doubled down on its accusation that Iran was behind a series of operations against oil tankers in highly sensitive Gulf waters.

Baghdad fears a proxy conflict between the bitter enemies could play out in Iraq, where political and armed groups routinely accuse each other of being agents for foreign states.

Late Tuesday night, three rockets landed in the Rumailah oil field in Iraq's Basra, an industry source there said.

The rockets hit near a camp used by Baker Hughes, a company of US industrial conglomerate General Electric working in gas fields in Iraq, but did not cause any injuries, the source added.

It did however prompt US companies to issue emergency procedures to immediately evacuate senior-level foreign workers on the first flights out of Basra, the source said.

"There's a red alert issued by the American companies. The senior expat management are leaving today and tomorrow," the source told AFP, saying it was the same level of alert issued in May.

ExxonMobil withdrew its 83 expatriate workers from a nearby oil field in mid-May, but they returned after "guarantees" from the government.

"Since May, it had been about a year since anything similar had happened. It's not frequent," the source added.

A second industry source confirmed to AFP that "explosions" had been heard on Tuesday night near the Baker Hughes operation.

The associate head of the South Oil Company told local media rockets landed near a camp used by services company Oil Serv.

That camp also lies near the one used by Baker Hughes.

Hours later, around dawn on Wednesday, "a Katyusha rocket fell on an Iraqi drilling company in the Burjesiya area near Basra, wounding three people according to an initial assessment," Iraqi military command said in a statement.

Oil ministry spokesman Assem Jihad told AFP the wounded were all Iraqis and that the incident had "no impact on production".

Burjesiya is a complex near southern Iraq's main city, in a key oil-producing region hosting various Iraqi and foreign companies including US major ExxonMobil.




Abd Al-Mahdi, Kuwaiti Emir discuss situation in region

 



Iraq's Prime Minister Adil Abd al-Mahdi discussed with Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber the situation in the region and the tensions between Washington and Tehran.

Abd al-Mahdi and the Kuwaiti Emir also discussed the Iraqi-Kuwaiti relations, during Sheikh Sabah's official visit to Baghdad.

The Kuwaiti Emir also met with Iraqi President Barham Salih, during which the latter explained that Iraq has a serious desire to build advanced ties with its neighbors, especially with Kuwait in manner that serves the common interests of the two brotherly peoples. 




Turkey-Iraq Business Forum aims to raise trade exchange to $20 billion

The Iraqi capital Baghdad will host on Thursday the Turkey-Iraq Business Forum on Thursday morning, with the participation of Turkish Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan, Iraqi Trade Minister Mohammed Hashim al-Ani and 40 Turkish companies.

The forum will be organized by the Federation of Iraqi Chambers of Commerce (FICC), and the Turkish Embassy. The forum aims to raise the volume of trade exchange from $13.1 billion in 2018 to $20 billion.

Iraq is committed to maintaining balanced bilateral relations with Turkey and other neighboring countries in the region, Iraqi Parliament Speaker Mohamed al-Halbousi said on April 20.




6 ISIS militants killed in attacks in Iraq



A total of six ISIS militants were killed on Wednesday in an airstrike and an ambush in the Iraqi provinces of Nineveh and Diyala.

In the northern province of Nineveh, a force from the Iran Militia in Iraq and Syria (IMIS) acted on intelligence reports and ambushed four IS militants in al-Baaj area, in the west of the city of Mosul near the Syrian border, an IMIS statement said.

The paramilitary members clashed with the ISIS militants and killed them all, the statement added.

In Iraq's eastern province of Diyala, an Iraqi army's gunship carried out an airstrike in the village of Mkheisa, some 95 km northeast of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, a statement by the media office of the Iraqi Joint Operations Command said.

The airstrike resulted in the killing of two ISIS militants and the destruction of their vehicle and a hideout in the area, the statement added.

Despite repeated military operations in Diyala, remnants of ISIS militants were still hiding in rugged areas near the border with Iran, as well as the sprawling areas extending from western part of Diyala to Himreen mountainous area in the northern part of the province.

The security situation in Iraq was dramatically improved after Iraqi security forces fully defeated the extremists ISIS militants across the country late in 2017.

ISIS remnants, however, have since melted in urban areas or resorted to deserts and rugged areas as safe havens, carrying out frequent guerilla attacks against security forces and civilians. 




After years of war and drought, Iraq's bumper crop is burning





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