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article imageOp-Ed: Three killed as rockets rain down on US base north of Baghdad

By Ken Hanly     Mar 11, 2020 in World
On Wednesday evening a volley of 18 rockets hit the Taji air base north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, The base hosts US and other foreign forces whose mission is said to be helping local forces battle radical jihadists.
Three killed in raid
The International Business Times reported that a US soldier and also an American contractor were killed along with a UK soldier. The rocket attack was the worst attack on an Iraqi military base in years. A coalition statement said that another 12 people were wounded but provided no details.
Wednesday spokesperson Myles Coggins said that the International Coalition for Operation Inherent Resolve confirmed that more than 15 small rockets impacted Iraq's Camp Taji base that was hosting Coalition troops The attack happened on March 11 at 7:35 PM local time. He noted the three casualties and said assessment and investigation was ongoing. The Iraqi military claimed that the rockets were fired from the back of a truck.
There has been no response from the US or the UK on the incident nor has any group claimed responsibility for the attack.
US response may escalate conflict
The raid has been followed
by US attacks on an Iraqi militia base in Anbar province. This could worsen relations with Iraq. The Iraqi parliament has already passed a motion that would require all foreign troops to withdraw from Iraq. However, the US has so far refused to discuss doing so. President Trump has threatened Iraq with extreme sanctions should it try to force the US to withdraw.
Another report notes that the US has blamed Iran-backed factions from Iraq's Hashed al-Shaabi military network which is actually incorporated into Iraqi forces as to blame for similar attacks in the past. The same report said that just hours after the Wednesday attack 3 warplanes likely belonging to the Coalition bombed Hashed factions stationed on the Syrian side of the border with Iraq. At least 18 Iraqi fighters were killed according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Hashed factions have fought alongside Syrian government forces for some time. This has caused them to be targeted both in Coalition and Israeli strikes.
There are constant attacks on US installations in Iraq. This is the 22nd since late last October. The US troops are supposed to be in Iraq to help train Iraq forces and help fight ISIS and other radical jihadists. However, ISIS is weak and fighting for mere survival, and Iraqi forces on their own could no doubt contain the threat. However, the US wants to stay in Iraq to counter Iranian influence and keep US power strong in the area. There have been a string of attacks with tit-for-tat responses from both sides. There are still some 5,200 US soldiers in Iraq with no sign of their being withdrawn. US officials have recently told reporters that they consider the Hashed faction a greater threat to them than the Islamic State due to their constant attacks on US bases.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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