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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

US Official: 3 Members of Coalition Forces Hurt in Rocket Attack Near Baghdad

By Edward Yeranian March 14, 2020

A U.S. military spokesman said a fresh round of rockets hit an Iraqi base Saturday where U.S.-led coalition forces were located, wounding three members of the coalition and two Iraqi troops.

The nationalities of the wounded coalition members were not immediately disclosed.

No one claimed responsibility for the attack.

A coalition spokesman said at least 25 Katyusha rockets were fired at the Camp Taji airbase north of Baghdad.

Iraqi media put the figure at 33 rockets from seven launchpads, saying that 23 rockets did not explode.

The attack was the second on U.S. coalition forces at Camp Taji since Wednesday. It followed U.S. retaliation Friday on Iraqi targets, including several Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi (PMF) bases — one mostly a Shiite police base — and a Karbala airbase under construction.

Arab media said Iraqi security forces arrested the owner of the lot from which the rockets were fired into Camp Taji, along with Iraqi forces at a nearby checkpoint, who saw the attack. Iraq's Joint Operations Command said personnel were still searching for the perpetrators.

U.S. withdrawal sought

Iraqi TV reported that the Iraqi army was asking the U.S. to withdraw its forces from the country in line with an Iraqi parliament vote in January. A second, formal vote by parliament, however, was never conducted amid the country's political confusion. Sunni and Kurdish members of parliament reportedly opposed the vote because of Iran's influence on the country's Shiite Hashd militia forces.

Funerals were held Saturday in Baghdad and Karbala for victims of the U.S. retaliatory airstrikes Friday. Five Iraqi militiamen and soldiers and one civilian were killed in those strikes.

Iraqi President Barham Salih issued a statement condemning Friday's U.S. strikes, calling them an "infringement on Iraqi sovereignty" and blaming the U.S. for "destroying Iraqi infrastructure and killing Iraqi forces."

Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed Ali Hakim summoned both the U.S. and British ambassadors Saturday to protest the Friday attack on Iraqi targets. Iran's Foreign Ministry summoned the Swiss ambassador, who represents U.S. interests, to protest the U.S. attack, in which one Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander reportedly was killed.

Iraqi analyst Oussama Saidi told state TV that relations between Washington and Baghdad "are currently a mess," and he said U.S. President Donald Trump was "not pleased by what's going on in Iraq because of U.S. elections in November."

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