Iraq gets Hellfire missiles from U.S.

BAGHDAD — The U.S. has sent Hellfire air-to-ground missiles to Iraq’s air forces, which is using them in an ongoing campaign against the country’s branch of al-Qaida, officials in Washington and Baghdad said Thursday.

Two Iraqi intelligence officers and a military officer said that 75 Hellfires arrived on Dec. 19 and more will be shipped in the future.

They said the missiles are being used now by four Iraqi King Air propeller planes during a large-scale military operation in the western desert near the borders with Syria. An intelligence official said that the missiles were proven “successful” and were used to destroy four militant camps.

Jen Psaki, a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department, confirmed the missile shipment and also said that the United States was planning on sending ScanEagle drones.

“The United States is committed to supporting Iraq in its fight against terrorism through the Strategic Framework Agreement,” she said, referring to a 2008 pact between the two nations. “The recent delivery of Hellfire missiles and an upcoming delivery of ScanEagles are standard foreign military sales cases that we have with Iraq to strengthen their capabilities to combat this threat.”

Hellfires are widely used by U.S. forces in their campaign against al-Qaida, often targeting militant hideouts or vehicles.

Iraq launched its operation in the largely desert province of Anbar after the weekend killing of a senior military commander, a colonel and five soldiers in an ambush.

Al-Qaida is believed to have made use of the war in Syria, which borders Anbar, to rebuild its organization in Iraq. Hard-line fighters are believed to shuttle between the two countries. According to U.N. estimates, more than 8,000 people have been killed since the start of the year in Iraq.

Also Thursday, a salvo of rockets hit a camp that houses members of an Iranian opposition group that is at odds with the government in Baghdad, Iraqi officials and the group’s organization said.

The Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran said “dozens” of rockets killed two of its members in the attack on Camp Liberty near Baghdad Airport. It said others were wounded.

The group, which is strongly opposed to Iran’s clerical regime, was welcomed into Iraq by Saddam Hussein in the 1980s during the war with neighboring Iran. Their fortunes turned sharply with the Iraqi dictator’s toppling in the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. Iraq’s current Shiite-led Iraqi government, which has strengthened ties with Tehran, considers their presence in the country illegal.

A disputed Sept. 1 shooting at their longtime home in Camp Ashraf killed 52 MEK members — roughly half of the camp’s remaining population. The dissidents accuse Iraqi security forces of carrying out the killings. Baghdad denies involvement, with officials saying an internal dispute was to blame.

Meanwhile, a bomb attached to a bus killed three civilians and wounded six in the Baghdad neighborhood of Jisr Diala, officials said.

More in Local News

Agencies launch coordinated response to an opioid ‘emergency’

Health workers, law enforcement agencies and emergency managers are responding as they might to a disaster.

Jordan Evers distributes coffee Sunday afternoon during the annual community meal at Carl Gipson Senior Center in Everett on November 19, 2017. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Firefighters serve Thanksgiving meals at Carl Gipson center

The next two feasts at the senior center in Everett will be Thanksgiving Day and Dec. 3.

Planning — and patience — can ease Thanksgiving travel

The Washington State Department of Transportation offers information to help guide planning.

Puffy-coated robbery suspect arrested on Whidbey

The suspect apparently wore the same outfit in 2 robberies at the same place in less than 2 weeks.

Man assaulted with hammer in Everett

His girlfriend had accused him of cheating on her and called another man over to confront him.

Injection sites still banned — County Council doesn’t budge

At a public hearing, more than 15 people said they are opposed to sanctioned areas for using heroin.

Dog shot at Mountlake Terrace house during burglary

A suspect was arrested Friday in Everett for investigation of burglary and first-degree animal cruelty.

1 arrested after SWAT team moves in on Marysville house

The incident was connected to an earlier robbery.

Renton police urge felony charge against King County sheriff

John Urquhart allegedly groped a former deputy. Investigators forwarded the case to the prosecutor.

Most Read