Middle East

Rockets fired at Baghdad base housing US troops in new attack

Two rockets were fired at a military base near Baghdad airport housing U.S. troops, the 10th such attack since late October, the Iraqi army said on Thursday, December 12.

There were no casualties in the overnight attack, which follows one on the same base on Monday which wounded six members of Iraq’s elite U.S.-trained counterterrorism force, two of them critically, the army said.

Washington has expressed mounting concern about the flurry of attacks on U.S. bases and diplomatic missions, several of which it has blamed on Shiite militia groups trained by its foe and rival for influence Tehran.

Security sources have linked at least one attack last week to Kataib Hezbollah, a powerful Shiite faction close to Iran and blacklisted by the U.S.

Iran holds vast sway in Iraq, especially among the more hardline elements of the Hashd al-Shaabi, a paramilitary force largely made up of Shiite militias.

A U.S. defense official told AFP the rocket attacks made the Hashd a bigger security threat to American troops in Iraq than Islamic State.

On Friday, the U.S. imposed sanctions on three senior Hashd figures.

Tensions between Iran and the U.S. have soared since Washington pulled out of a landmark Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear agreement with Tehran last year and reimposed crippling sanctions.

Iraq – which is close to both countries and whose many security forces have been trained by either the U.S. or Iran–- is worried about being caught in the middle.

U.S. officials say they are considering plans to deploy between 5,000 and 7,000 additional troops to the region to counter Iran.

With reporting from AFP

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