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Two rockets hit training base south of Baghdad in third such attack in week

Mourners carry the flag-draped coffins of two fighters of the Popular Mobilization Forces who were killed during the U.S. attack on against militants in Iraq, during their funeral procession at the Imam Ali shrine in Najaf, Iraq, Saturday, March 14, 2020.

AP

By SAMYA KULLAB | Associated Press | Published: March 17, 2020

BAGHDAD — Two rockets struck a training base south of Baghdad where U.S.-led coalition troops and NATO trainers are present, Iraq's military said Tuesday, the third such attack in the span of a week.

The rockets hit the Basmaya base near the Iraqi capital on Monday evening, the army statement said. The projectiles landed in an area that includes agricultural land and a factory, according to the statement. No more details were provided.

A Spanish contingent of the coalition and NATO trainers are present at the Basmaya site. There was no immediate confirmation of the attack from the coalition and no militant group claimed responsibility for the assault.

Last Wednesday, a barrage of over two dozen rockets struck Camp Taji, north of Baghdad, killing three coalition service members, including two Americans. A British service member was also killed. It was the deadliest to target U.S. troops in Iraq since a late December rocket attack on an Iraqi base, which killed a U.S. contractor and set in motion a series of attacks that brought Iraq to the brink of war.

Wednesday's barrage was followed by another attack, on Saturday at the same site, which wounded five soldiers — three coalition members and two Iraqi soldiers.

The first attack prompted American airstrikes Friday against what U.S. officials said were mainly weapons facilities belonging to Kataib Hezbollah, the Iran-backed militia group believed to be responsible for the attack.

However, Iraq's military said those airstrikes killed five security force members and a civilian, while wounding five fighters from the Popular Mobilization Forces, an umbrella organization including an array of militias, including some Iran-backed groups.

Iran-backed Shiite militia groups vowed to exact revenge, signalling another cycle of tit-for-tat violence between Washington and Tehran that could play out in Iraq.
 

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