Twin rockets hit Taji military base following US-Iraq Strategic Dialogue
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – On Saturday night, two Katyusha rockets landed in Taji military base, some 35 kilometers (21 miles) north of Baghdad, with the Iraqi military reporting no casualties.
The attack comes following US-Iraq Strategic Dialogue in which Baghdad is expected to commit itself to protecting bases hosting foreign military personal.
This is the third such incident this week. The first attack targeted Baghdad’s International Airport complex and, in the second, Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone came under a rocket attack on late Wednesday, the eve of the start of the meetings aimed at defining future relations with Washington on a variety of sectors, including those affecting security, politics, and the economy.
“In spite of our previous warnings to those who try to mix cards by deteriorating security and threatening our heroic security forces through targeting their bases,” Iraq’s Joint Operations Command said in a strongly-worded statement, some “parties” still decided to go ahead with Saturday night’s twin rocket attacks.
An official from the International Coalition against the so-called Islamic State confirmed the attack, but said that it did not reach Coalition’s troops, according to reporting by AFP.
The targeted Iraqi military base hosts the US-led Coalition’s military trainers and additional personal that provide training and advice to Iraq’s various security forces.
No group has claimed the responsibility for the attacks yet, but both recent events and the wording of the military statement appear to put the blame squarely on Iran-backed militias of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF). Iraq’s security forces announced that they had begun their investigations for finding the perpetrators.
In March, Taji base came under a rocket attack that resulted in the death of two Americans and a British national. Coalition bases were hotspots for attacks amid US tensions with Iran playing out in Iraq, often in the form of rocket and drone attacks from above.
U.S.-Iran Strategic Dialogue
On Thursday, in a joint statement following the first round of talks between the US and Iraq, Baghdad announced it had “committed to protecting the military personnel of the International Coalition and the Iraqi facilities hosting them consistently.” Following the first session of the strategic dialogue between the US and Iraq on Thursday, it was announced that a follow-up meeting would be held later this summer.
“What we want,” David Schenker, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, explained to journalists after the day’s discussions, “is to have a strong, normal bilateral security arrangement with Iraq, characterized by training, provision of high-quality weapon systems, joint exercises, and senior officers studying at our respective military academies.”
Editing by John J. Catherine