Iraq: Main suspect in Erbil attack arrested

Cairo: Authorities in Iraqi Kurdistan have said they have arrested the alleged main perpetrator of last month’s rocket attack at the Erbil airport including a complex housing US forces.

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The February 15 rocket attack killed one civilian contractor and injured a US service member and several American contractors.

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The Kurdistan Region’s counterterrorism unit released video confessions of the alleged perpetrator of the attack, identified as Hayder Hamza Al Bayati.

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Standing behind the attack is the Iran-allied group Kataib Sayyid Al Shuhada, an affiliate of the Iraqi umbrella militia Al Hashd Al Shabi or the Popular Mobilization Forces, according to the alleged attacker. He added that the rockets used in the attack were Iranian-made.

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Kurdistan’s authorities in northern Iraq said that investigations into the attack had implicated four perpetrators including Al Bayati.

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Still at large

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“After sharing the information with the Iraqi federal security forces and the [US-led] coalition, another perpetrator was arrested by the Iraqi security forces,” the counterterrorism unit said in a statement without details. Two other perpetrators are still at large.

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The attack was the first targeting US military personnel in Iraq since US President Joe Biden took office on January 20. However, it was one in a series of such attacks that have surged in recent months in different Iraqi areas including Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone, home to the US embassy.

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A little-known militia, calling itself Saraya Awliya al-Dam (Custodians of the Blood) claimed responsibility for the Erbil attack.

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