Turkey condemns deadly Iraq attack on coalition troops

Friday, 13 Mar, 2020

Despite adding over 10,000 American troops to the region since May, McKenzie said Iran continues its attacks against U.S. forces. Iran struck back with a ballistic missile attack on U.S. forces in Iraq, the Islamic Republic's most direct assault on America since the 1979 seizing of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.

Army Col. Myles Caggins, a US military spokewman in Iraq, said on Twitter that more than 15 small rockets hit Iraq's Camp Taji base.

He provided no details. Several other USA officials confirmed that US troops had been killed and injured, but did not provide numbers.

According to the Department's website, Taji Military Camp is home to Task Force Taji, "a combined Australian-New Zealand military training force" which supports worldwide efforts to "train and build the capacity" of Iraq's security forces, as well as United States and other foreign forces.

Later on Wednesday, explosions were heard in the Iraqi border town of Qaim near Syria after unidentified war jets carried out air strikes targeting some locations, Iraq's al-Sumeria news reported.

Camp Taji, just north of Baghdad, was hit by between 15 and 30 Katyusha rockets on Wednesday evening.

On Tuesday, local medical sources told The New Arab's Arabic language sister-site that four Iraqi anti-government protesters were killed and 80 injured.

Wednesday's attack is another blow to an already ailing relationship between the USA and Iraq.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility for Wednesday night's rocket attack, which came on what would have been Qassem Suleimani's 63rd birthday.

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"Today's deadly attack on Iraq's Camp Taji military base will not be tolerated", U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, added in a Tweet late Wednesday, saying the U.S. and Britain agree "those responsible must be held accountable".

USA officials said the strike was not related to the Taji base strike at all.

Two days later, the U.S. responded by bombing Kataeb Hezbollah, a faction within PMF that is heavily backed by Iran and which Washington has blamed for several rocket attacks.

The groups often help to enforce Tehran's interests, attacking a protest movement that is critical of it, or the US forces that Iran wants to expel.

US Marine General Kenneth McKenzie, the head of the military's Central Command, did not blame any specific militia but noted that only Iran-backed Kataib Hezbollah had been known to wage such an attack in the past.

Army Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said 14 other coalition troops were injured in the attack, including five who required urgent care.

Iran responded with missile attacks on Ain Al Assad air base in Anbar that caused no deaths but left more than 100 United States soldiers with mild traumatic brain injuries.

There have been reports of retaliatory air strikes elsewhere in Iraq, close to the Syrian border, but these have not been confirmed.