The missile strikes that hit al-Asad airbase Tuesday night in retaliation for the killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani who plotted terrorist activity for Iraq, raised tension both here and abroad. While President Trump visited last Thanksgiving, outside of military members, most Americans are not familar with the targeted military base.
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WHERE IS IT?
Al Asad Airbase sits about 100 miles west of Baghdad in Anbar Province.
The airbase has two runways measuring 14,000 feet and 13,000 feet, along with multiple taxiways. The base has it own power plant and drinking water bottling plant.
Like other large bases in Iraq, Al Asad has an indoor swimming pool, movie theater, post office, a rec center, gyms a Burger King, Cinnabon, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut, Subway Restaurant, and a Green Beans Coffee Shop.
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
Al Asad means the "The Lion"
HOW BIG IS THE BASE?
Al Assad has a perimeter of more than 15 miles.
It was built in the mid-1980s by the Iraqi government with contractors from the former Yugoslavia at a cost of $280 million. It was originally called then called Qadisiyah Airbase after a historic Persian battle that took place in 636 B.C.
Prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, it housed three units of the Iraqi Air Force, which flew MiG-25s and MiG-21s. It was abandoned shortly after the start of the invasion.
Just one month after the incursion, Australian Special Air Service Regiment troops took control of the airfield. According to Air Force Technology, after capture, the airfields were refurbished by the 3rd Cavalry Regiment of the U.S. Army to allow for the landing of large transport and fuel supply aircraft. The 1st Marine Expeditionary Force took control of the base in March 2004 and it became, Al Asad the largest U.S. base in western Iraq
It closed at the conclusion of the Iraqi War in 2011 but became operational again in 2014 to fight ISIS. When U.S. Marine Col. Jason Bohm returned to the base he likened it to “The Twilight Zone.” Said, Bohm: “Our headquarters was a former Marine air logistics squadron headquarters. There were items that were just left there when we picked up and left. Literally newspapers with the date the last person that was in that office still there."
The airbase continues to be used by Iraqi troops and coalition forces led by the U.S. and British troops.