Friday, March 13, 2020

As Talk Of Expelling US Forces From Iraq Dies Down Attacks Upon Americans Pick Up

Truck used to fire rockets at Camp Taji on March 11 (Al Sumaria)


Hashd units aligned with Tehran killed another two Americans bringing an immediate response from Washington. It appears that pro-Iran groups are returning to harassing attacks because the move by Iraq’s parliament to expel U.S. forces has stalled due to the inability to pick a new prime minister.

Kataib Hezbollah was blamed for the latest incident that left two American and one British soldier dead. On March 11 a series of rockets hit Camp Taji in northern Baghdad province killing three Coalition members and leaving another dozen or so wounded. A security source told Shafaaq News that Kataib Hezbollah was behind the attack, and the group praised the assault afterward. The next day President Trump authorized the Pentagon to respond. That resulted in air strikes on March 13 by both the Americans and British hitting Kataib Hezbollah sites in Karbala, Babil and Anbar. The Pentagon released a statement saying that it targeted weapons depots used by the group, while Defense Secretary Mark Esper told the press that the U.S. would not tolerate the killing and wounding of Americans.

Recent Attacks Upon Iraqi Bases That House U.S. Forces
Date
Target
Jan 27
Rockets hit U.S. Embassy, Green Zone, Baghdad
Feb 13
Rockets hit K1 base, Kirkuk
Feb 15
Rockets hit Green Zone, Baghdad
Feb 21
Mortars fired at base, Makhmour dist, Irbil
Mar 1
Rockets fired at Sadiq base, Salahaddin
Mar 2
Rockets hit Green Zone, Baghdad
Mar 5
Rockets hit Green Zone, Baghdad
Mar 7
Rockets hit Camp Taji, Baghdad

The March 11 attack was the latest in a series of operations by pro-Iran groups in the last few weeks. On January 27 rockets hit the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad injuring at least one workers there. February 13 rockets slammed into the K1 base in Kirkuk. That was the same place struck on December 27 that killed a U.S. contractor and wounded four soldiers that led to a retaliatory strike that killed Iranian Revolutionary Guards Quds Force commander General Qasim Suleimani and the deputy head of the Hashd Commission Abu Muhandis. February 15 rockets landed near the embassy in the capital. February 21 mortars were fired at a base in the Makhmour district in southern Irbil that houses U.S. forces. March 1 2 rockets were fired at Sadiq base in Salahaddin that also has Americans. The next day two rockets hit the Green Zone in Baghdad, and that happened again on March 5. Along with that Kataib Hezbollah warned the Iraqi forces, political parties and companies to end all work with the Americans by March 15 or suffer the consequences. After the death of Suleimani it was reported that Iran was moving away from these types of operations because it was hoping to rally its allies in the ruling parties to expel U.S. troops from the country via legislation. Some of the Shiite parties supported this stance. Retired Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi informed the Americans that Baghdad wanted them to withdraw, but then nothing happened. That was because the government fell into crisis over its inability to select a new premier to replace Abdul Mahdi. With nothing happening on the political front Tehran might have authorized its allies to move back to the use of force to harass Washington. That would mean Iran and its friends are undeterred by American retaliation and these types of incidents could continue for the foreseeable future.

SOURCES

Al-Aalem, “A coup in Iran’s policy towards Iraq: Sadr is a last resort to confront the United States,” 1/20/20

Al Arabiya: Britain is participating in the American bombing of Hezbollah headquarters in Babil,” 3/13/20

Bas News, “Rockets Target Iraqi Base Housing US-led Coalition Forces,” 3/1/20

Department of Defense, “Statement by the Department of Defense,” 3/12/20

Frantzman, Seth, “Iraqi Nujaba militia: Countdown to attacks on US forces has begun,” Jerusalem Post, 2/16/20

Al Hurra, "Rockets landed near the US embassy in Baghdad," 2/15/20
- “Who will succeed Al-Muhandis and Al-Fayad? .. Qom meeting details and directions of Qani and Nasrallah,” 1/16/20

Jacobson, Don, “Rocket attack on U.S. embassy in Iraq injures at least one person,” UPI, 1/27/20

Al Jazeera, “Pentagon threatens retaliatory strike after deadly attack in Iraq,” 3/12/20
- "Rocket attack hits northern Iraq base hosting US troops," 2/13/20

Lamothe, Dan and Loveluck, Louisa, “U.S. launches strikes in Iraq against Iranian-backed militias after attack that killed coalition troops,” Washington Post, 3/12/20

Al Maalomah, “An American aggression affects the headquarters of the Popular Mobilization in Jurf al-Sakrh, Anbar and Salahaddin,” 3/13/20
- "A mortar shell fell near the US drunken fence," 2/21/20
- “Pictures .. US bombing leaves damage at Karbala military airport,” 3/12/20

Rudaw, “Iraqi Hezbollah warns against dealing with American forces and gives violators 15 days,” 2/29/20

Saadoun, Mustafa, “PMU factions reluctant to target US interests in Iraq directly,” Al Monitor, 2/6/20

Sky News Arabia, "Our reporter: Two rockets landed inside the Green Zone in Baghdad, and the American embassy sirens," 3/5/20

Al Sumaria, “Aerial bombardment targeting a Hezbollah headquarters in Jurf Al-Sakhr,” 3/12/20

Wali, Zhelwan, "Two rockets hit Baghdad Green Zone as Allawi resigns," Rudaw, 3/2/20

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