Lockheed Martin removes contractors from Iraq base over security fears - sources
By Ahmed Rasheed and Idrees Ali
BAGHDAD, May 10 (Reuters) - Lockheed Martin LMTN.N is removing contractors working on the maintenance of F-16 fighter jets at an Iraqi military base because of security concerns, three Iraqi and American sources told Reuters.
Balad air base, which is north of Baghdad, has been the target of frequent rocket attacks that U.S. officials believe are carried out by Iranian-backed militia.
One U.S. official and two sources in Iraq with knowledge of staffing at the base, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the contractors were being removed as a direct result of the security situation.
Lockheed Martin did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
It was not immediately clear how many contractors had been working on the base or where they would be repositioned to, but their removal highlights concerns about threats posed to American contractors and service members.
Three rockets hit the base earlier this month and the removal comes after recent rocket attacks have come close to hitting areas of the base where Lockheed operates.
The United States has frequently called on the Iraqi government to do more to deal with the rocket attacks.
(Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed in Baghdad, Idrees Ali in Washington and Ghazwan Hassan in Tikrit, additional reporting by Mike Stone and John Davison, editing by Estelle Shirbon)
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