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US base again targeted by rockets, three days after deadly attack

Two Iraqi soldiers and three members of the coalition were injured at the Taji base, according to the American army and the international anti-Jihadist coalition.

Thirty-three rockets again targeted an Iraqi base on Saturday, March 14, where two American soldiers and a British were killed Wednesday in a similar attack. The attack on the Taji base, north of Baghdad, left five wounded: two Iraqi aviation personnel and three coalition members, according to the military and the United States-led international anti-Jihadist coalition.

This episode of rare magnitude revives fears of an escalation in Iraq. It must be said that the new attack is unprecedented for more than one reason: the number of rockets fired – 24 unexploded ordnance were also counted by the army – is rarely as high and they were fired in broad daylight. Due to the overcast sky, the American surveillance drones could not fly, an American security source told AFP.

Since the end of October, 23 rocket attacks have targeted American interests in Iraq, while pro-Iran armed factions regularly call for the Americans to be kicked out of the country. No rocket attack has ever been claimed, but Washington accuses Hezbollah Brigades, one of the country's most radical pro-Iran factions, of being behind the gunfire.

The Iraqi authorities, who are relying on the coalition to fight the jihadists, claim that they cannot find the perpetrators. However, they regularly announce, like Saturday, quickly find the launch pads for rockets near the targeted bases.

On Thursday, for the first time, the Hezbollah Brigades had welcomed – without claiming – the firing of 18 rockets which had killed two American soldiers and one British soldier the day before. They had once again denounced “the American occupation forces”, while Parliament voted to expel 5,200 American soldiers from the country. The government has yet to act on this threat.

In response to the attack on Wednesday evening, the United States carried out strikes on the night of Thursday to Friday, targeting, according to Washington, bases of the Hezbollah Brigades. They killed six Iraqis, including five police and soldiers and one civilian, according to the Iraqi army. The country's authorities strongly denounced the American strikes by summoning the American ambassador and announcing that they would file a complaint with the United Nations.

Damage in the area of ​​Karbala airport (Iraq) following an American strike carried out after the attack on Taji base. (MOHAMMED SAWAF / AFP)

For Washington, Baghdad is not doing enough to prevent attacks by armed factions which are now integrated into the state after fighting the jihadists of the Islamic State (IS) group.

Baghdad, however, seems to be raising its voice in the face of those responsible for the shootings. If he again denounced the American raids, he also condemned the attacks on foreign troops stationed on Iraqi bases and announced several arrests within the Iraqi security forces in Taji, within the framework of the investigation into the Saturday attack. Opposite, several heads of the Hezbollah Brigades accused the Iraqi leaders of aligning themselves with Washington's positions by condemning the rocket attacks.

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