Defence Minister Ron Mark is downplaying a rocket attack near Camp Taji in Iraq as the Defence Force confirms no Kiwis were harmed.
Katyusha rockets hit roughly 3km away from the military complex - located north of Baghdad and which also hosts American forces - on Wednesday morning in an attack which local media described as "fierce". Initial reports suggested the rockets landed on the base itself.
It's understood between two and five rockets were launched at the complex, but the base was not hit. SkyNews reports that one rocket landed outside one of the camp's gates, wounding a member of a security force. It is unclear which nationality that individual is.
The Iraqi military says there were no casualties. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
There are 45 New Zealanders located at Camp Taji in a non-combat training role. Those troops are expected to return to New Zealand by June.
In a statement to Newshub, a New Zealand Defence Force spokesperson said there had been no NZDF personnel in the area where the rockets landed and all personnel at the camp were "safe and accounted for".
"As you will be aware, these events are a regular occurrence," the spokesperson said.
"The NZDF takes all precautions necessary in theatre to keep our people safe and continues to monitor the security situation."
Defence Minister downplays attack
Mark told Newshub that he had no information to suggest Camp Taji was targeted.
"So, 3km is either bad shooting or not intended for Taji," he said.
"We're monitoring and watching it and right now our people are focused. The standard protection measures are in place and I will just continue monitoring and listening to the information that comes through to me. I'm quite calm about it."
He also rejected any suggestion a security guard posted near where the New Zealanders are based was injured.
"I find it unrealistic that a security guard at the part of Taji where New Zealanders were based would have been injured given that the rockets landed 3km from there," Mark said.
"All I can say is I have no knowledge that occurred and I am receiving regular updates almost every half hour."
He said Cabinet is yet to discuss the situation.
The attack comes after Iran launched rockets at two Iraqi military complexes last week. Camp Taji was not the target in those attacks and no New Zealanders were injured.
"The Government is working actively with our partners through military and diplomatic channels, and we continue to keep the security situation under close review, including implications for our personnel," NZ Foreign Minister Winston Peters said at the time.
"Now is the time for restraint and de-escalation, and for diplomacy to take over."
Those blasts were retaliation for the killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in a US-directed airstrike earlier in January. There was also an airstrike in the Taji region on January 4, however, it's unknown who was responsible for that. Six people associated with a local militia were killed.
The killing of Soleimani - who was one of Iran's most powerful figures and the head of its infamous Quds Force - sent shockwaves across the region, with Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowing revenge.
US President Donald Trump says his decision to order the killing was informed by intelligence which suggested Soleimani was plotting imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel. However, while the President has support of his many in party, other US politicians briefed on the intelligence say it didn't specify any imminent threat. No congressional approval was requested for the assassination.
The airstrike came only days after an America contractor in Iraq was killed in a rocket attack which the US blamed on Iranian-backed militia. In response, the US killed 25 Hezbollah fighters, leading militias to attack the US Embassy in Baghdad.