3 people, two Americans and one British national have been killed when a military base in Taji, Iraq was hit by over dozens small rockets. A US official blamed Iran for the attack raising the prospect of a direct military confrontation between Iran and US in the region.
United States Central Command Spokesman Captain. William Urban confirmed the killing of two US service members and one coalition service member in the Katyusha rocket attack. The US will go after the attackers inside Iraq another official told Cable News Network, adding that weapons and tactics used in the attack suggest that projectiles could be the work of Iranian proxies or outrightly fired by IRGC.
Response of US and Coalition
Col. Myles Caggins, spokesman for the US-led coalition confirmed the attack and causalities in his tweet:
“The Coalition @CJTFOIR confirms more than 15 small rockets impacted Iraq’s Camp Taji base hosting Coalition troops, March 11, at 7:35 p.m. (Iraq Time). Assessment and investigation ongoing…”
The Coalition gave its official statement later on Wednesday:
“Three Coalition personnel were killed during a rocket attack on Camp Taji, Iraq, March 11. The names of personnel are withheld pending next of kin notification, in accordance with national policies,” the statement read.
Approximately 12 additional personnel were wounded during the attack. The attack is under investigation by the Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces. Camp Taji is an Iraqi base that hosts Coalition personnel for training and advising missions,” it added.
“What we have seen are a number of attacks on the US embassy – some as recent as less than two weeks ago,” General Kenneth McKenzie told House Armed Services Committee of Congress on Tuesday. Adding that “rockets have fallen very close. Rockets have fallen inside of the embassy compound. We have a variety of things that we do to protect ourselves and we have been – we have been good so far in doing that. That luck is not going to hold out forever.”
Talking about the role of Shiite militias over which Iran enjoys strong influence and leverage, McKenzie said: “I have always said that Iran can certainly direct attacks in Iraq. Iran may not be able to prevent attacks from occurring in Iraq. And frankly, the fact that Qasem Soleimani is no longer there to tie it all together makes it a little bit more difficult for them to effect command and control.”
Reaction from UK
The United Kingdom Ministry of Defense in its statement revealed that the British personnel was a member of the Royal Army Medical Corps.
“The service person’s family have been informed and have requested a period of privacy before further details are released,” the statement read.
UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace describe the attack as cowardly and retrograde act. “We shall not forget their sacrifice and will ensure those who committed these acts face justice.”
Earlier, PM Boris Johnson called the attack deplorable.
“The foreign secretary has spoken to the US secretary of state and we will continue to liaise with our international partners to fully understand the details of this abhorrent attack,” said Mr. Johnson.