3 US troops wounded in new rocket attack on Iraq base: Pentagon

International

Destroyed buildings are seen at an airport complex under construction in Karbala, Iraq, Friday, March 13, 2020. Iraq’s military said five security force members and a civilian were killed early Friday in a barrage of U.S. airstrikes, which were launched hours after a rocket attack killed and wounded American and British servicemen at a base north of Baghdad. (AP Photo/Anmar Khalil)

A new rocket attack against a base in Iraq housing servicemembers left three American troops wounded, according to the Pentagon.

The U.S. military carried out retaliatory airstrikes on Thursday that targeted weapons facilities belonging to an Iranian-backed Shiite militia group blamed for a similar attack on Wednesday on the base that killed two American service members and a British soldier.

“Last night, there was a Katyusha rocket attack on U.S., coalition and Iraqi forces at Camp Taji,” Jonathan Hoffman, the Pentagon’s chief spokesman, said in a statement. “We had three U.S. service members who were injured. Two seriously who are being treated at the military hospital at the Baghdad Airport base.”

A spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq had earlier confirmed via Twitter that two Iraqi troops were also wounded in Saturday’s attack on the large training base known as Camp Taji, located north of Baghdad.

“At least [25] 107mm rockets impacted Iraq’s Camp Taji base hosting Coalition troops, March 14 at 10:51 a.m. (Iraq Time),” wrote Lt. Colonel Myles Caggins, the spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve “3-Coalition WIA (wounded in action) , 2-Iraqi WIA. Assessment and investigation ongoing,

Iraqi Security Forces confirmed in a tweet that they had located the seven launch platforms used to launch the rockets at Camp Taji and found 24 unfired missiles.

The Pentagon has blamed the militia group, Kata’ib Hizbollah (KH), for more than a dozen rocket attacks in the last six months that have targeted U.S. military facilities in Iraq.

A rocket attack in December that killed an American contractor triggered a series of events that almost led the U.S. and Iran to the brink of war.

More than a dozen 107-millimeter rockets were fired at Camp Taji on Wednesday, not only killing the three coalition members but also wounding 14 other personnel.

That attack led to the U.S. retaliatory airstrikes that targeted five weapons depots belonging to KH that housed weapons similar to the ones used in the deadly attack.

“We’re not going to tolerate these direct attacks on American or coalition service members, and we’re willing and able to respond,” Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the commander of U.S. Central Command, told reporters on Friday.

He added, “What should now be obvious to everyone is you’re not going to be able to fire those at a U.S. or coalition base, hurt or kill our people, and escape unscathed.”

The Iraqi government said later that five Iraqi security forces were also killed in the attack.

McKenzie also warned Iran and its proxy groups to not respond to the airstrikes with new attacks “that would endanger U.S. and coalition forces or our partners.”

“U.S. Central Command is well-postured to defend our forces around the region, and to respond to any further aggression against our forces,” he said..

It is unclear if Saturday’s attack will lead to additional U.S. military action against KH.

In his statement, Hoffman cited Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s comments from earlier this week.

“You cannot attack and wound American Service Members [sic] and get away with it, we will hold them to account,” he said.

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