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Rockets hit Iraq’s Besmaya base housing Coalition and NATO troops

A pair of rockets hit an Iraqi base hosting U.S.-Led coalition and NATO troops, Iraq’s military said Tuesday, March 17, the third attack on installations hosting foreign forces inside a week.

The rockets slammed into the Besmaya base south of Baghdad late Monday night, a statement by the military said, making no mention of casualties.

Spanish forces linked to the U.S.-led Coalition against Islamic State, as well as NATO training forces, are present in Besmaya.

The last week has seen a renewed spike in rockets hitting Iraqi bases hosting foreign forces, with three coalition troops killed on March 11 in a similar attack on the Taji airbase, which was hit again on March 14.

Since late October, there have been 24 rocket attacks on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad or bases where foreign troops are deployed, killing a total of three American military personnel, one British soldier and one Iraqi soldier.

No attacks have been claimed but Washington has blamed Kataib Hezbollah, a hardline faction in the Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Units) – Shia militias incorporated into the Iraqi state.

The U.S. has long insisted Iraq’s government should do more to reign in such factions and prevent them from targeting American troops and diplomats.

But Washington took a much tougher line in December after a U.S. contractor was killed in a rocket attack, launching retaliatory air strikes against Kataib Hezbollah in Iraq and Syria.

The faction’s supporters then surrounded and briefly stormed the U.S. embassy. Days later, the U.S. military killed Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force commander General Qassem Soleimani and PMU de facto leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in a drone strike on Baghdad.

Outraged, Iran launched ballistic missiles at the largest Iraqi base hosting U.S. troops and the Iraqi parliament voted to oust all foreign forces from the country.

The parliamentary vote has yet to be implemented by a government.

With reporting from AFP

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