Rockets land near oil district in southern Iraq; no casualties

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BASRA, Iraq (Reuters) – Rockets landed near a district in Iraq that houses workers for foreign oil companies on Monday, including U.S. oil service company Halliburton, but caused no damage or casualties, oil and police sources said.

Police said three Katyusha rockets were launched around 3 a.m. local time and hit the Burjesia residential and operations headquarters west of Iraq’s main southern city, Basra. A launcher and 11 unfired rockets were found nearby and dismantled by security forces, according to the statement.

The oil ministry denounced the attack and said in a statement one rocket landed near a health centre in a district which includes administration offices for state-run and foreign oil companies without causing any casualties or damage.

Another rocket landed near the perimeter of Zubair oilfield, operated by Italy’s Eni, without causing any damage or disrupting operations, said oil ministry spokesman Asim Jihad.

According to the oil ministry statement, which described the attack as “unjustified criminal acts”, five rockets in total were fired. Three landed in an uninhabited area.

An Iraqi employee working with Halliburton said the rockets fell far from the site. The district houses foreign oil workers and offices of both foreign and Iraqi oil companies, but has been largely empty in recent weeks after nearly all foreign personnel were evacuated because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Two officials with state-run Basra Oil Co, which oversees oil operations in the south, said the attack had not affected production or export operations.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. Police said they deployed additional forces to search the area.

Iran-backed paramilitary groups have regularly been rocketing and shelling bases in Iraq that host U.S. forces and the area around the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

Reporting Aref Mohammed in Basra and Ahmed Rasheed in Baghdad; Writing by Ahmed Rasheed; editing by Larry King and Nick Macfie

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