Iraq: rockets strike military base near Baghdad

The strikes marked the third such attack this month

(FILES) In this file photo US Army helicopter crew members look out of their Chinook helicopter as they fly from the US Embassy to Baghdad International airport, following the helicopter of US secretary of State Mike Pompeo, over the Iraqi capital Baghdad on January 9, 2019.  Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Iraq on March 16, 2020 the US would retaliate "as necessary" against any new assaults on Americans after a slew of rocket attacks.The United States last week launched airstrikes against an Iranian-allied paramilitary group following a deadly attack on an Iraqi base housing US troops -- but rocket fire has continued unabated.
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A military base near Baghdad was struck by two rockets on Saturday evening, but did not cause injuries, Iraq's army said.

The base, to the north of the capital, is used occasionally by US troops. The attack is the third this month and came just days after Washington and Baghdad launched strategic talks.

The Katyusha rockets struck Camp Taji and caused minor damage but no injuries, according to the Iraqi military statement. In March, two Americans and one British soldier were killed following a barrage of rockets on Camp Taji, which has been used as a training base for a number of years.

The first session of the much-anticipated strategic talks between the US and Iraq began Thursday, and is to lay the agenda for the months ahead, including the presence of US troops in the country, Iran-backed militia groups acting outside of the state and Iraq’s dire economic crisis.

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 ISIS.

US Assistant Secretary of State David Schenker, in comments to reporters in Washington following the session, said Iraq had committed to “moving ahead and undertaking their obligations,” with regards to militia attacks targeting the American presence.

Saturday’s attack appears to have been a test of this commitment. A statement from Iraq’s joint operations command following the attack said orders had been given to launch an investigation “to reveal these entities that, despite our warnings to them, seek to weaken Iraq.”

A day before the talks began, a rocket landed a few hundred metres from the US Embassy in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone.

Another rocket attack on Tuesday struck the periphery of Baghdad’s airport, which includes a military base used by US troops. There were no reported casualties or damage.

The US has accused Iran-backed militias of carrying out such attacks in the past.