No casualties reported as two rockets fall on Taji base in Iraq housing US troops

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Cairo -Two Katyusha rockets fell in Iraq’s Taji base that hosts US-led coalition troops, with no casualties reported, the state news agency said on Saturday.

The attack late on Saturday north of Baghdad hit an Iraqi base but missed US-led coalition troops stationed there, Iraq’s military and a coalition official said.

A statement from Iraq’s security forces said the rockets were launched north of Baghdad and did not cause any damage to the Taji base.

A coalition official confirmed the projectiles fell outside the coalition’s segment of the base.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

It was the third attack in a week to target US troops or diplomats.

Two rockets struck the grounds of the vast Baghdad airport complex on Monday and an unguided rocket hit close to the fortified US embassy two days later.

The attacks follow several weeks of relative respite from more than two dozen similar incidents in recent months.

Since October, at least 30 attacks have targeted American troops or diplomats, severely straining ties between Baghdad and Washington.

Tensions reached boiling point in January when the US killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in a drone strike in Baghdad.

Washington has accused armed groups backed by Iran, Iraq’s powerful neighbor and the US’s top regional foe, for the repeated rocket attacks. But it also blamed the Iraqi government for not doing enough to protect US installations.

Washington and Baghdad are hoping for a reset after launching a strategic dialogue this week that aims to better define their military, economic and cultural relationship.

As part of the talks, the US pledged to continue reducing in-country troop levels, which numbered about 5,200 last year.

Iraq, meanwhile, vowed to “protect the military personnel” operating on its territory as part of the US-led coalition fighting remnants of the ISIS extremist group.

 

 

Reuters

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