Three personnel from the U.S.-led Coalition against Islamic State were killed Wednesday, March 11 in Iraq when more than a dozen Katyusha rockets were fired at a base housing Coalition troops in central Iraq.
The rockets hit the Iraqi base located 27 km (17 miles) north of the capital Baghdad, which also houses U.S. troops, the Iraqi Security Media Cell said.
سقوط عشرة صواريخ كاتيوشا داخل معسكر التاجي بدون خسائر , تم العثور على عجلة نوع كيا بنكو تحمل منصة صواريخ فيها ثلاث صواريخ متبقية جنوب منطقة الراشدية. pic.twitter.com/onxirvQgTs
— خلية الإعلام الأمني???????? (@SecMedCell) March 11, 2020
The U.S.-led Coalition against Islamic State later confirmed that three personnel were killed and “approximately 12” others injured in the rocket attack on Camp Taji.
“The names of the personnel are withheld pending next of kin notification, in accordance with national policies,” the release said.
“Approximately 18 107mm Katyusha rockets struck the base,” the Coalition said, without elaborating on the extent of material damage to base structures and the airfield.
Coalition spokesperson Colonel Myles Caggins III had earlier tweeted: “The Coalition … 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 U.K. Ministry of Defence said: “We can confirm we are aware of an incident involving U.K. service personnel at Camp Taji, Iraq. An investigation is underway, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”
“One Polish soldier was wounded as a result of rocket fire” in Iraq, Poland’s Armed Forces Operational Command tweeted, adding that the soldier’s life was not in danger.
A Kia Bongo flatbed truck with a missile platform was found in the nearby Al-Rashidiyya area with three rockets on board, the Iraqi army said.
Possible retaliatory airstrikes against Kataib Hezbollah and Imam Ali militia sites along the Iraq-Syria border near Al Bukamal were reported but have not yet been confirmed.
On Tuesday, General Kenneth McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command, said that the U.S. was moving air defense systems into Iraq after discussions with the caretaker government. The U.S. has blamed Katib Hezbollah, a Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Units) militia, for repeated attacks targeting its bases in Iraq and the American embassy in Baghdad.
Iraqi bases housing Coalition forces came under rocket fire late on January 4, the 13th such attack in two months, prompting the U.S. military to halt training of the Iraqi Security Forces and joint operations against ISIS.
In response to a December attack on the K1 base near Kirkuk that killed an American contractor and wounded Iraqi Security Forces and U.S. military personnel, President Donald Trump authorized airstrikes that killed Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force commander Qassam Soleimani and de facto PMU leader Abul Mahdi al-Muhandis. Wednesday would have been Soleimani’s 63rd birthday.
The operation that killed him and al-Muhandis, and previous U.S. strikes on Kataib Hezbollah positions in Iraq and Syria, prompted the Iraqi government to close its airspace to American military flights and call for foreign forces to leave the country, but the U.S.-led Coalition against ISIS resumed operations with the Iraqi Security Forces in late January.
This post was updated on March 11.