Amid rising tensions between Iran and the US five missiles were fired at an “American oil company,” according to the Iranian Fars News website. The report is based on another Iraqi report that said Monday morning that rockets had been fired at a company linked to Halliburton. How the website knew this is unclear and photos were not available from the scene. It was unclear who fired the alleged rockets and it could also be blamed on ISIS.

However, the alleged rocket attack fits a pattern of dozens of rocket attacks on bases housing US troops and against the embassy. In 2018 there were also attacks on US facilities in Basra and the oil fields were largely evacuated of some foreign workers. The US evacuated its consulate in Basra and warned Iran and its proxies against attacks. Social justice protesters in October and November 2019 blocked roads to the oil fields around Basra.

The Iranian report, whether accurate or not is evidence of Iran’s attempt to play up attacks on the US in Iraq as part of a media campaign trying to warn the US to leave Iraq. Iranian media is flooded with reports of anti-US politicians and forces in Iraq. The US has been slowly repositioning forces in Iraq, withdrawing from K-1, Q-West, Qiam, Taqaddum and other sites in Iraq in the last weeks. The US says this is due to coronavirus but many other countries are also withdrawing, including Czech, UK, France and other forces, leaving these posts exposed to attacks. The US is in Iraq to fight ISIS but in the last months it has carried out three airstrikes on Iranian-backed proxies and their leading including the Iranian IRGC Quds Force head Qasem Soleimani. Pro-Iranian activists and politicians are trying to remove US forces from Iraq.

The report clams that the rockets hit near the “number 20” oil well, one of the largest in Iraq. The website argued that investigations were ongoing. The rockets could have also been fired by ISIS or other groups. It’s unclear why pro-Iranian groups would want to damage Iraq’s oil infrastructure, since they want to run Iraq. However oil prices are at an all time low, so the oil well has less mportance than in the past.

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