Copy of 2021-03-03T101221Z_1366695692_RC2M3M92Z4F7_RTRMADP_3_POPE-IRAQ-1614768802619
Workers hang posters of Pope Francis ahead of the planned visit of Pope Francis to Iraq, in Baghdad on March 3, 2021. Image Credit: REUTERS

Vatican City: Pope Francis said Wednesday he still expected to make his historic visit to Iraq in two days time, after a rocket attack on a military base hosting US-led coalition troops.

“The day after tomorrow, God willing, I will go to Iraq for a three-day pilgrimage. For a long time I have wanted to meet these people who have suffered so much,” the 84-year-old pontiff said in his weekly Wednesday address.

At least 10 rockets slammed into a military base in western Iraq hosting US-led coalition troops on Wednesday, security sources said, leaving one civilian contractor dead.

The attack on the sprawling Ain Al Assad base in Iraq’s western desert comes after several weeks of escalating US-Iran tensions on Iraqi soil - and just two days before Pope Francis’s historic visit.

Ain Al Assad hosts both Iraqi forces and US-led coalition troops helping fight Daesh, as well as the unmanned drones the coalition uses to surveil extremist sleeper cells.

Coalition spokesman Colonel Wayne Marotto confirmed that 10 rockets hit the base at 7.20 am while Iraqi security forces said they had found the platform from which 10 “Grad-type rockets” hit the Ain Al Assad base.