A sprawling airbase in Iraq that serves as one of the vital consequential hubs for the U.S.-led army presence there got here beneath assault Wednesday morning by 10 rockets, native officers stated. The perpetrator was not instantly clear and Iraqi authorities had been nonetheless conducting an investigation as of Wednesday morning. Nonetheless, Iraqi officers issued fastidiously crafted statements shortly afterward that point out they imagine Iran was behind the assault. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby in a press release stated one U.S. civilian contractor had a coronary heart assault whereas sheltering in the course of the strike and later died. No uniformed U.S. troops had been injured, Kirby stated. The U.S. can not attribute duty for the assault, he stated, deferring to the Iraqi investigation.The provocative assault comes at a time of escalating tensions between Tehran and Washington following a U.S. airstrike on a Syrian place final week housing pro-Iranian militia. The retaliatory strike, which American officers say they hope has restored deterrence with Iran, was in response to a string of assaults by pro-Iranian militia in Iraq in opposition to a sequence of U.S. installations there. Wednesday's rocket assault dangers additional spikes in violence at a time the Biden administration is desperately making an attempt to coerce Iran to return to diplomatic negotiations. It comes because the U.S. is making an attempt to dealer diplomacy within the area and as Pope Francis is planning a go to to Iraq later this week. Spokesman Military Col. Wayne Marotto tweeted early Wednesday that 10 indirect-fire rockets had struck al-Asad airbase in central Iraq, roughly 150 miles northwest of Baghdad. It homes troops from the U.S.-led coalition combating the Islamic State group and different extremists in Iraq and Syria. Oblique hearth refers back to the widespread technique of assault by rebel forces in American warzones within the Center East involving projectiles usually activated remotely and lobbed at targets moderately than fired immediately at them, making it harder to determine the perpetrators instantly and to defend in opposition to.Iraq's senior leaders referenced the assault at a beforehand scheduled assembly Wednesday morning to debate diplomatic efforts and the pope's upcoming go to. The officers didn’t blame Iran overtly for orchestrating the assault. Nonetheless, statements attributed to the commander in chief of Iraq's safety forces on the assembly can solely be interpreted as a transparent warning to Tehran to stop its provocative actions, analysts say, together with Wednesday's rocket strikes. Based on a translation of an Arabic readout of the assembly launched early Wednesday, the commander stated his forces had been specializing in militant events working exterior the Iraqi authorities's decision-making course of, and careworn the significance of Iraq's distancing itself from regional and worldwide competitions for energy. "It’s a clear message to Iran and to its Iraqi proxies to not use Iraq within the former's escalation with the US," says Randa Slim, a regional skilled and senior fellow on the Center East Institute. President Joe Biden has appeared keen in current weeks to interrupt from his predecessor and undertake a extra conciliatory strategy with Tehran, a minimum of to convey it again into negotiations relating to its nuclear program. Iran has stated such talks are not possible till the White Home lifts the crippling sanctions then-President Donald Trump imposed as part of his "most strain" marketing campaign after unilaterally strolling away from the final nuclear settlement.A strike the U.S. carried out in opposition to pro-Iran forces in Syria on Friday was seen as a calculated try to not escalate tensions with Iran – notably that it didn’t happen in Iraq and threat additional inflaming pro-Iranian militia violence there. "One of many issues we had been definitely hoping to realize because of that strike was to discourage future assaults by militia teams on our individuals, our services and our Iraqi companions," Kirby informed reporters on the Pentagon on Tuesday. "And we definitely hope it has that impact." Rocket assaults in opposition to bases housing U.S. forces in February come as Iran additionally seeks revenge for Trump's resolution to kill prolific Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani – who was liable for coordinating Shiite Muslim militias in Iraq – in a drone strike in early 2020, together with a outstanding Iraqi commander of these forces. Hypothesis has emerged that Iran could not nonetheless management the Iraqi militias as intently because it did throughout Soleimani's tenure. Nonetheless, Kirby informed reporters final week that the Protection Division nonetheless considers the forces aligned with Tehran. "It's been no secret that they do have ties to Iran," he stated at a press briefing on Feb. 26. "That's a longstanding understanding that we’ve."