Exxon workers evacuated after Katyusha attack in southern Iraq

Exxon workers evacuated after Katyusha attack in southern Iraq
40 workers from Exxon have been evacuated after a rocket attack on an oil-drilling site in southern Iraq.
2 min read
19 June, 2019
The rockets damaged a facility in southern Iraq, injuring workers [Getty]

An Iraqi intelligence officer says 40 workers for the American energy giant Exxon Mobil have been evacuated from an oil-drilling site in southern Iraq after they came under rocket fire.

The officer told The Associated Press that security reinforcements have been deployed to the site after a rocket hit before dawn on Wednesday near the location of the Iraqi workers, wounding three.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to brief the press.

The official said that immediately after the attack, 16 Exxon Mobil workers were evacuated. Another 24 workers were later evacuated.

The Katyusha rocket hit the site in southern Basra province, striking a camp housing workers for Exxon Mobil and other foreign companies.

The attack came amid rising tensions in the region between the US and Iran.

Another Iraqi security source told the Reuters news agency that Iran-backed groups in Basra province were believed to be behind the attack.

Read more: Iraqis speak out on heightening US-Iran tensions

"According to our sources, the team (that launched the rocket) is made up of more than one group and were well trained in missile launching," the security source said.

Abbas Maher, mayor of the nearby town of Zubair, told Reuters he believed Iran-backed groups had specifically targeted Exxon to "send a message" to the US.

Tensions between the US and Iran have been rising since President Donald Trump withdrew from a 2015 nuclear deal in May and re-imposed and extended US sanctions on Iran.

Iran has hinted that it could abandon the nuclear deal unless European states act to rein in the US.

Attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf in May and June brought tensions to a new pitch. Iran denies any involvement.

Wednesday's attack is the fifth targeting US interests in Iraq in as many days. Katyusha rockets fell yesterday on an Iraqi military facility in Taji, north of Baghdad, where US trainers were present.

Iraqi officials fear that a proxy conflict could break out in Iraq between the US and Iran.

Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi said on Tuesday that he had "ordered all forces to take all necessary measures" to prevent further rocket attacks.

Follow us on Twitter: @The_NewArab