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US troops killed, injured in Iraq rocket attack – officials

Juan Carlos Carvallo
US troops killed, injured in Iraq rocket attack - officials

In a statement, the US-led coalition fighting Daesht said hat approximately 18 Katyusha rockets struck the Camp Taji base in Iraq. Coalition forces instructors monitor as they train Iraqi Army’s 53rd Brigade in a live ammunition training exercise at Taji military base north of Baghdad, Iraq August 9, 2017. (Reuters Archive) The US-led coalition fighting Daesh confirmed on Wednesday that three personnel had been killed in a rocket attack on a military camp in Iraq and that about a dozen additional personnel were wounded.

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In a statement, the coalition said that approximately 18 Katyusha rockets struck the base.

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The attack is under investigation by the Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces,” the statement said.  

Earlier, several US officials confirmed that US troops had been killed and injured, but did not provide numbers. 

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to give details of the attack ahead of a public announcement.

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One of the officials said five service members were seriously wounded and evacuated from the Camp Taji base and seven others were still being evaluated. Another official said two of those who had died were US service members.

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Buildings on the base were in flames

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. 

Another US official said that as many as 30 rockets were fired from a truck launcher, and 18 hit the base

Officials did not say what group they believe launched the rocket attack, but Kataib Hezbollah or another Iranian-backed Shia militia group is likely

Camp Taji, located just north of Baghdad, has been used as a training base for a number of years. 

There are as many as 6,000 US troops in Iraq, training and advising Iraqi forces and conducting counterterror missions

Kataib Hezbollah was responsible for a late December rocket attack on a military base in Kirkuk that killed a US contractor, prompting American military strikes in response

That in turn led to protests at the US embassy in Baghdad

They were followed January 3 by a US airstrike that killed Iran's most powerful military officer, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, and Abu Mahdi al Muhandis, a leader of the Iran-backed militias in Iraq, of which Kataib Hezbollah is a member

Kataib Hezbollah been designated a “foreign terrorist organization” by the State Department since 2009

Later on Wednesday, Syrian opposition activists and a war monitor reported an airstrike that targeted Iranian militia positions along the IraqSyria border

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported 10 airstrikes carried out by three unidentified aircraft that targeted pro-Iran militias in the Al Bukamal region in eastern Syria, near the border with Iraq

The Britain-based Observatory which monitors the Syria war through a network of activists on the ground said at least 10 explosions were heard in the region but said there was no immediate word on casualties

US officials said the strike was not related to the Taji base strike at all. But, it was not immediately clear who conducted the attack

Syrian activist Omar Abu Layla said the unidentified airstrike targeted Iranian militia positions in the Al Bukamal region

Around 18 Iraqi fighters were killed in the air strikes in eastern Syria, AFP reported citing an NGO

Syrian state-run media also reported an aerial attack in the Al Bukamal region near the Iraqi border that caused material damage

The strikes in Syria were carried out by the US-led anti Daesh coalition and had targeted Iranian positions, according to a report published by Turkey’s public news agency Anadolu Agency,

Source: AP