As many as three foreign soldiers – two from the US and one from the UK – were killed on March 11, Wednesday, after a barrage of rockets was fired on the US-led coalition forces at the Taji base in Iraq. As per reports, the casualties may rise with at least 12 other soldiers wounded in the attack.
No one has taken responsibility for the attacks so far. According to the statement released by the US Army spokesperson in Iraq, Colonel Myles Caggins, at least 15 small rockets hit the Taji base, that lies 30 km north of the capital Baghdad. The base is used for training purposes by the coalition forces led by the US. US officials have blamed Iraqi militias allegedly supported by Iran for such attacks on previous occasions.
The office of Iraq’s acting prime minister, Adel Abdel Mahdi, has issued a statement condemning the latest attack.
Meanwhile, Iran’s Press TV reported that some unidentified warplanes bombed bases of the Iraqi militia, Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), near the Syrian border, killing 18 of its fighters. The US, however, has denied taking any retaliatory measures.
Wednesday’s casualties raise this week’s total death toll of foreign forces in Iraq to five. On March 7, Sunday, two US soldiers were killed apparently in an operation against the resurgent Islamic state or ISIS.
Attacks against US and other foreign troops in the country have increased after the assassination of Iranian General Qassim Soleimani in January this year. PMF commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis was also killed in an attack. Following his assassination and the US air strikes on their bases, Iraqi militias have asked the Iraqi government soldiers to stay away from foreign troops in order to avoid getting caught in the cross fire.
More than 5,200 US soldiers and hundreds of other NATO forces are currently stationed in Iraq. Most of them were deployed to assist the Iraqi forces in the fight against ISIS post 2014.
Claiming that the presence of foreign troops violates Iraqi sovereignty, and following the assassinations of Soleimani and Muhandis, the Iraqi parliament passed a resolution in January asking the government in Iraq to initiate a process to evict all foreign troops from the country.