Sunday, March 15, 2020

Tit For Tat Between U.S. and Pro-Iran Hashd Continues

Rocket launchers used for second strike on Camp Taji (Al Masalah)


A day after the U.S. and England hit five Kataib Hezbollah targets in Iraq for the deaths of two American and one British soldiers at Camp Taji in Baghdad that same facility was hit again by rockets. 33 missiles rained down on Taji from seven launchers. That resulted in three more U.S. soldiers and 3-4 Iraqi Security Forces being wounded. The attack showed that pro-Iran elements within the Hashd are undeterred by the threat of retaliation from Washington. This was the ninth assault on U.S. personnel since January 27, and the fifth in March. The goal of these operations in fact, may be to provoke the Americans into over reacting and killing Iraqis that would re-ignite the move to force foreign troops from the country.

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 11
Rockets hit Camp Taji, Baghdad
Mar 13
Rockets hit Camp Taji, Baghdad

The raid on Kataib Hezbollah sites on March 13 showed the problems the U.S. is facing. The strikes ended up killing three Iraqi soldiers and two police from the 19th Division and 3rd Babil Police regiment respectively. This was widely condemned by the Iraqi leadership not just groups aligned with Iran. The Joint Operations Command condemned the attack and said it violated Iraqi sovereignty, while the Foreign Ministry called in the U.S. and British ambassadors to complain to them. As Michael Knights of the Washington Institute pointed out in an article in Politico the need for a quick response meant that the targets struck were likely empty and had no real value to Kataib Hezbollah, and in fact hurt the U.S. position with the Iraqi fatalities. If that’s the kind of response the Trump administration is going to make groups like Kataib Hezbollah will gladly continue on with their rocket assaults.

SOURCES

BBC, “Iraq base attack: Coalition and Iraqi troops hurt as Taji targeted again,” 3/14/20

Knights, Michael, “How the U.S. Can Stop the Surge of Deadly Rocket Attacks in Iraq,” Politico, 3/13/20

Mamouri, Ali, “Has war between Iran and US already started in Iraq?” Al Monitor, 3/13/20

Al Masalah, “Joint operations announces the cessation of work with the international coalition regarding support to counter ISIS,” 3/14/20

Xinhua, "4 Iraqi soldiers wounded in rocket attack on military base near Baghdad," 3/14/20

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