Iraq: Coalition and Iraqi troops hurt in attack on base

Three service personnel from the US-led coalition in Iraq and two Iraqi troops have been injured in another attack on a military base just north of Baghdad, the coalition has said.

The coalition said more than 30 rockets were fired at Camp Taji base in northern Iraq which hosts foreign troops from the US-led coalition, whose mission is to train and advise Iraqi security forces.

This is the second attack this week on the base. On Wednesday, a rocket launch killed two american service personnel and a British service person.

The US responded with air strikes targeting an Iranian-backed militia just hours later.

However, Iraqi officials say that Iraqi soldiers and policemen were killed in the strikes.

It said the US had carried out “a blatant attack” on Iraqi military sites in Babil province and an airport under construction in Karbala province. It also said the headquarters of the Popular Mobilisation (PM) forces – an umbrella militia which is officially part of the Iraqi security forces – had been hit.

The Iraqi military says the latest attack on Taji must not be used by the US as a pretext for any action without Iraq’s approval.

Iraq’s Joint Operation Command said 33 Katyusha rockets were launched on the base. Seven rocket launchers and 24 unused rockets were later found nearby.

No-one has yet said they carried out the attack though US commanders blame Iran-backed group Kataib Hezbollah.

The US accuses Iran-backed militias of 13 similar attacks on Iraqi bases hosting coalition forces in the past year. These attacks, one which killed a US contractor, led to a confrontation between the US and Iran which led to President Trump ordering the assasination of top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani.

There are about 5,000 US personnel and hundreds more from other countries in Iraq. They are deployed at the request of the government but the parliament passed a bill following Soleimani’s killing demanding the invitation be rescinded.

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