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Rocket Strike On Yet Another US-Led Coalition Base in Iraq

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Rocket Strike On Yet Another US-Led Coalition Base in Iraq

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On March 16th, in the evening, a pair of rockets hit the Besmaya base south of Baghdad, Iraq.

The Iraqi military announced the strike, and mentioning no casualties.

This is the third strike on bases hosting US-led coalition and NATO troops in Iraq in a week.

Spanish forces linked to the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS, as well as NATO training forces, are present in Besmaya.

Earlier in the day, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that the US would retaliate “as necessary” against any new assaults on Americans after the rocket attacks.

On the previous day, Pompeo spoke to Iraqi caretaker prime minister Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, in connection to a rocket attack on March 14th, after  three American troops and several Iraqi forces were wounded in the second major rocket attack in the past week on an Iraqi base north of Baghdad, U.S. and Iraqi officials said.

He said Iraq’s government should defend the U.S.-led coalition helping it fight Islamic State, according to the statement from State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus.

“Secretary Pompeo underscored that the groups responsible for these attacks must be held accountable. Secretary Pompeo noted that America will not tolerate attacks and threats to American lives and will take additional action as necessary in self-defense,” it said.

After the March 14th attack, Iraq’s Joint Operations Command said 33 Katyusha rockets were launched near a section of the Taji base which houses U.S.-led coalition troops. It said the military found seven rocket launchers and 24 unused rockets in the nearby Abu Izam area.

Before that attack, the US launched airstrikes against Kata’ib Hezbollah, who are part of the Popular Mobilization Units, who are one of the main fighters against ISIS in the Iraqi Armed Forces, following a deadly attack on an Iraqi base housing U.S. troops.

Meanwhile, the US-led coalition said that it is vacating some its smaller bases in Iraq, in view of the ramped up attacks on US troops in the country.

“As a result of the success of Iraqi Security Forces in their fight against ISIS, the Coalition is re-positioning troops from a few smaller bases. These bases remain under Iraqi control and we will continue our advising partnership for the permanent defeat of Daesh from other Iraqi military bases,” the US-led coalition said.

“The Coalition remains in Iraq at the invitation of the Government of Iraq to defeat ISIS; since 2014, together, we have liberated more than 55,000 square kilometers and freed millions of Iraqi people from ISIS murderous rule. Our troops are re-positioning in coordination with the Government of Iraq. Due to operational security, we will not announce a specific timetable for the troop movements.”

There’s also reportedly a new armed group, Ausbat al-Thaayirin, who claimed responsibility for the March 3rd attack that killed 3 US marines and a British military nurse.

According to the statement assuming responsibility, the attack was in response to the US assassination of Deputy-Commander of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and Commander of the Iranian Quds Force Maj. Gen. Qassam Soleimani. It also vowed to continue military actions against US forces.

It is yet unclear if the new attacks were also carried out by Ausbat al-Thaayirin.

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