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US, British soldiers killed in rocket attack on Iraqi base hosting coalition forces

The incident on Wednesday follows 21 other similar attacks on US interests [Getty]

Date of publication: 11 March, 2020

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An Iraqi military commander on Wednesday confirmed a barrage of rockets hit an Iraqi military base housing US soldiers near Baghdad, the latest such attack on US interests.
An American soldier and a British soldier, as well as one US contractor, were killed on Wednesday when rockets hit an Iraqi military base north of Baghdad, a US military official said. 

Ten rockets hit the military base in the 22nd attack against American military interests in the country since late October, an Iraqi military commander said earlier.

The attack against the Taji base wounded foreign coalition members, a coalition official told AFP late on Wednesday, describing the injuries as ranging from "light to critical".

Previous rocket attacks targeting US soldiers, diplomats and facilities in Iraq have killed one US contractor and an Iraqi soldier.

None of the attacks have been claimed, but Washington accuses pro-Iran factions of being responsible.

Two days after the death of an American in rockets fired on an Iraqi military base in Kirkuk at the end of last year, the US army hit five bases in Iraq and Syria used by the pro-Iran armed faction Kataeb Hezbollah.

Tensions then rose further between arch foes Washington and Tehran, leading to the assassination in Baghdad on January 3 of the powerful Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani and an Iraqi paramilitary commander in a US drone strike.

Read more: ‘They’re the virus’: Iraq coronavirus outbreak refuels anti-government protests

Iran retaliated by launching a volley of missiles at an Iraqi base hosting US soldiers days later.

The US leads an international coalition - comprised of dozens of countries and thousands of soldiers - formed in Iraq in 2014 to confront the Islamic State jihadist group.

While IS has lost its territory, sleeper cells remain capable of carrying out attacks.

The Iraqi parliament voted to expel all foreign soldiers from the country in the wake of the killing of Soleimani, a decision that must be executed by the government.

The outgoing government, which resigned in December in the face of mass protests, has yet to be replaced due to a lack of agreement in parliament - one of the most divided in Iraq's recent history.

Iraq remains mired in turmoil, with protesters calling for sweeping changes and a decisive end to the current system, imposed after the 2003 US occupation of the country, which marked the inception of a ruling system shaped by sectarian and religious division.

They reject the appointment of Prime Minister Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi, whom they see as part of the very elite they are trying to overthrow.

Sporadic protests continue to erupt in cities in southern and central regions of Iraq, despite measures banning public gatherings to combat the rapid spread of the novel Coronavirus, which has so far claimed the lives of 7 Iraqis out of a total of 71 confirmed cases.

On Tuesday, local medical sources told The New Arab’s Arabic language sister-site that four Iraqi anti-government protesters were killed and 80 injured.

The youngest victim was a 13-year-old child, the source added.

Some 600 have been killed in the bloody violence, according to Amnesty International, with large swathes subject to torture and abduction by security authorities.

Iraqi security officials on Wednesday reported that unidentified gunmen killed two anti-government activists, named as Abdel-Aaddous Qasim and Karrar Adil, in Maysan province, south of the country.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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