On March 17th, at least three rockets struck Baghdad’s Green Zone, near the US Embassy.
It came one day after an attack on the Besmaya training base south of the capital, where US-led coalition troops and NATO trainers were present, Iraqi security officials said.
Myles Caggins, a spokesman for the US-led coalition, said the rockets fell at least 2km (1.2 miles) from the embassy.
The rockets struck the al-Jadriya neighborhood.
سقوط صاروخين نوع كاتيوشا انطلقا من منطقة عرب جبور باتجاه منطقة الجادرية أحدهما سقط على بناية متروكة قرب هيئة الحج والعمرة والاخر سقط في نهر دجلة، دون خسائر تذكر . pic.twitter.com/NHaPxKpot6
— خلية الإعلام الأمني🇮🇶 (@SecMedCell) March 17, 2020
There were reports that a strike also struck camp Taji. Caggins denied the reports.
As of 11pm (Baghdad Time), no rockets were fired at Camp Taji. In Baghdad no explosions occurred near US/Coalition facilities. 📃 لحد الساعة11 مساء (بتوقيت بغداد) ، لم تطلق صواريخ على معسكر التاجي. كما لم تحدث انفجارات في بغداد بالقرب من منشآت أمريكية / تابعة لقوات التحالف.
— OIR Spokesman Col. Myles B. Caggins III (@OIRSpox) March 17, 2020
Camp Taji was attacked twice in a week. On March 11th, a rocket attack killed 3 US marines and a British army nurse.
It prompted American airstrikes on March 13th against what U.S. officials said were mainly weapons facilities belonging to Kata’ib Hezbollah, the Iran-backed militia group believed to be responsible.
On the next day, another attack struck camp Taji, wounding 3 US soldiers. The U.S.-led coalition said at least 25 107mm rockets struck Camp Taji. Some struck the area where coalition forces are based, while others fell on air defense units, the Iraqi military statement said.
In total, five people were wounded in the attack, including three coalition members and two Iraqi soldiers, according to spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition Myles Caggins.
A statement from Iraq’s military said the “brutal aggression” wounded a number of air defense personnel who remain in critical condition, but did not provide a number.
Jonathan Hoffman, chief Pentagon spokesman, confirmed that three U.S. service members were wounded in the Camp Taji attack. Two of them were seriously wounded and are hospitalized.
Hoffman also repeated US Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s comments, saying, “You cannot attack and wound American service members and get away with it. We will hold them accountable.”
The March 14th attack was unusual because it occurred during the day. Previous assaults on military bases housing U.S. troops typically occurred at night.
In total, four attacks have taken place within a week, with the 2 of them being on camp Taji, one on Besmaya, and now on the Green Zone in Baghdad.
The US blamed the attacks on Iraq’s Kata’ib Hezbollah militia, part of the Popular Mobilization Units that are officially under leadership of the Iraqi military.
No explanation has been forthcoming as to why an Iraqi militia – even one supported by Iran – would be using such outdated weaponry when the Iraqi military was until very recently equipped with US arms, or why it would strike a coalition base housing Iraqi troops.
At least 25 rocket attacks, unleashing more than 160 individual rockets, have hit US bases in Iraq since October 2019.
And the US reportedly plans to withdraw its troops from several positions in Iraq – Qayara Airfield West and Kirkuk.
Qayara was the base used in the US-backed operation to take back Mosul from IS. Both bases have been hit by rocket attacks in recent months. A US contractor was killed in a rocket attack at Kirkuk on December 28th.
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