Two Americans, one Briton killed in rocket attack on military base in Iraq

Two American soldiers and a British were killed, and a dozen people were wounded when 15 small rockets hit the Iraqi military camp of Taji north of Baghdad on Wednesday, two US officials told preliminary reports.

It is the deadliest attack on a facility housing foreign troops for several years and comes after a series of rocket attacks targeting American troops across Iraq as well as the American Embassy in Baghdad.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but Washington blamed Iran-backed factions for similar attacks.

The Iraqi army said earlier Wednesday that the attack on the Taji base had left no one injured or damaged, in the 22nd attack on US military interests in the country since late October.

The United States leads an international coalition – made up of dozens of countries and thousands of soldiers – formed in Iraq in 2014 to confront the Islamic State group, a jihadist group that Baghdad declared defeated in late 2017.

Previous rocket attacks on American soldiers, diplomats and installations in Iraq in the past few months have killed an American contractor and an Iraqi soldier.

None of the attacks have been claimed, but Washington accuses pro-Iranian factions of being responsible.

Two days after the death of an American in rockets fired at an Iraqi military base in Kirkuk at the end of last year, the American army hit five bases in Iraq and Syria used by the pro-Iranian armed faction Kataeb Hezbollah.

Tensions then increased between the enemies of Washington and Tehran, leading to the assassination in Baghdad on January 3 of the powerful Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani and an Iraqi paramilitary commander in an American drone strike.

Iran responded by launching a volley of missiles at an Iraqi base welcoming American soldiers a few days later.

The Iraqi parliament has voted to expel all foreign soldiers from the country following the murder of Soleimani, a decision to be carried out by the government.

The outgoing government, which resigned in December in the face of mass protests, has yet to be replaced due to a lack of parliamentary agreement – one of the most divided in Iraq’s recent history .

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)