Iraqi security forces ride in vehicles travelling to Mosul to fight against militants of Islamic State at an Iraqi army base in Camp Taji in Baghdad.
(photo credit: AHMED SAAD/REUTERS)
Iraqi Security Forces are investigating an incident on Monday in which rockets were allegedly fired near Camp Taji in Iraq, north of Baghdad. According to a statement from Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, the anti-ISIS coalition, indirect fire landed “within the perimeter of Camp Taji” on Monday.
The incident is one of the most serious in recent months targeting areas where US forces are present in Iraq. Camp Taji is one of several locations in Iraq where US forces and other coalition partners are involved in training and assisting Iraqi Security Forces. The US sent forces to Iraq in 2014 to aid in the fight against Islamic State.
Since last fall there has been increased controversy over the US presence in parts of Iraq. Iranian-backed paramilitaries have threatened US forces, harassed patrols and even been found to point rockets at US forces in the past. Mortars and rockets have also been fired, including at a US consulate last year in Basra and also near the US embassy in Baghdad in May.
Several prominent Shi’ite militia leaders have called for the US to leave. Tensions increased when US President Donald Trump said the US would use Iraq to watch Iran after the US withdraws from eastern Syria. Iraq has said it does not want to be part of the US-Iran tensions. In addition the US has labeled the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and some allied Shi’ite militias in Iraq as terrorist groups. Many of these groups, such as Kata’ib Hezbollah, Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba and Asaib Ahl al-Haq have opposed the US in the past and even fought US forces after the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
The “indirect fire” that landed in Camp Taji appears to be a major escalation. It comes as the US is sending 1,000 more troops to the region. US-Iran tensions continue to rise and Iran appears to want to provoke a US response or at least test US resolve. However the investigation in Iraq is not complete. The attack could have been carried out by ISIS. It appears more likely to have been carried out by a pro-Iranian group.
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