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US Contractor Killed, Soldiers Injured in Iraq Rocket Attack

A major attack on a military base in Kirkuk, Iraq, killed a US defense contractor and wounded American and Iraqi soldiers. Up to 30 rockets were fired at the compound, the latest in a series of similar attacks across the country. The US has blamed Iranian-backed Shi’ite Popular Mobilization Forces for most of them, although this weekend’s assault could have been perpetrated by Islamic State given that the Kirkuk base houses members of the international force that for years had been combating the terrorist group. Earlier this month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attributed to Tehran and its proxies the spate of rocket attacks and warned of a “decisive response” if American or allied forces were harmed. The potential confrontation comes amid ongoing civil unrest in Iraq, where more than 450 people have been killed since nationwide protests erupted in October. The demonstrations – partially fueled by anger over Iranian interventionism in the country – led to the resignation of Iraq’s prime minister. Civilians have continued taking to the streets, however, demanding the total dismantlement of what they view as a corrupt political system. This, in turn, has resulted in a political stalemate, with competing factions – including those loyal to the Islamic Republic – unable to agree on who to name as the next Iraqi leader.