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Rockets Hit Coalition Base North Of Baghdad

By RFE/RL March 14, 2020

A number of rockets have hit a military base housing U.S. and other coalition troops north of Baghdad, injuring three American troops, two of them seriously, and critically wounding two Iraqi air defense personnel.

The attack on Camp Taji on March 14 came just days after a similar attack there killed three military personnel, including one British and two American soldiers.

Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman would not speculate on possible U.S. responses to the latest attack but cited the words of U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper from last week, repeating in a statement, according to Reuters: "You cannot attack and wound American Service Members and get away with it, we will hold them to account."

The U.S. military said Iraqi forces had made initial arrests of suspects and that an investigation was continuing.

The Pentagon also said the two seriously wounded U.S. troops were being treated at a Baghdad-area military hospital.

The Iraqi military said 33 Katyusha rockets had been launched at Camp Taji. It said in a statement that seven rocket launchers and 24 unused rockets were later recovered in the nearby Abu Izam area.

The military said the U.S. or other foreign forces should not use the attack as pretext to take military action without Iraq's approval. It called on all foreign troops to quickly implement a parliamentary resolution calling for their withdrawal.

An Iraqi military spokesman told the AFP news agency that two Iraqi air defense members had been wounded in the attack.

The March 11 attack on Camp Taji was the first deadly targeting of U.S. troops in Iraq since a late December rocket attack on an Iraqi base killed a U.S. contractor and triggered a series of tit-for-tat attacks.

In retaliation, the United States launched a series of air strikes early on March 13 on militia bases across Iraq's south, killing five Iraqi security personnel and a civilian.

The U.S. military said it had targeted sites used by the Iran-backed Kataib Hizbullah militia.

Iraqi President Barham Salih on March 13 condemned the U.S. attack, warning that the country could slip into "chaos" and become a "failed state."

The Iraqi military said the "aggression" against its armed forces occurred in the areas of Jurf al-Sakher, Al-Musayib, Najaf, and Al-Iskandariya on the headquarters of the Iraqi Army.

An Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said that U.S. President Donald Trump should "reconsider the presence and behavior of his troops in the area" instead of making "dangerous actions and baseless accusations."

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab described the response to the attack on coalition forces as "swift, decisive and proportionate," and warned that anyone seeking to harm those forces could expect a "strong response."

With reporting by AP and AFP

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/iran-rockets-hit-coalition- base-iraq-baghdad/30487602.html

Copyright (c) 2020. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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