After missile strikes, US and Iran enter a new phase of escalation
MOSCOW, (BM) – High-level Iraqi politicians condemned yesterday, March 12, the rocket attack on a military base led by the United States against the Daesh terrorist group, which killed two Americans and one British soldier.
This is reported by Al-Arabia TV channel.
President Barham Saleh and parliamentary speaker Mohammed al-Halbusi called the incident “a terrorist attack” against “Iraq and its security.”
The UN mission in Iraq called for “maximum restraint on all sides.” “These ongoing attacks pose a clear and significant threat to the country, and the danger of criminal acts by armed groups remains a constant problem,” the mission said. “The last thing Iraq needs is to serve as an arena for blood feud and external battles.”
Along the Taji military base north of Baghdad, where soldiers and officers of the coalition forces are stationed, 18 missiles were fired on the evening of March 11, presumably from Katyusha-type installations. In addition to the military, one US civilian specialist was killed. This was the deadliest attack on the American coalition base on Iraqi territory in recent years, the Pan-Arab television channel notes.
Not a single group has yet claimed responsibility for the strike. According to Pentagon officials, one of the pro-Iranian militias that make up the predominantly Shiite People’s Mobilization Force (Hashd al-Shaabi) of Iraq is behind the attack.
A few hours after the rocket bombardment, the United States Air Force launched a series of attacks on the positions and targets of pro-Iranian militias on the border between Iraq and Syria. According to military sources, 26 Khashd al-Shaabi fighters were killed as a result of these air raids.
A missile strike at the Taji base could have been inflicted by the Iraqi Kataib Hezbollah group, which enjoys Iran’s support.
Apparently, the American side will try to use the March 11 incident to obtain permission from Baghdad to deploy anti-aircraft (air defense) and anti-missile (missile defense) systems in the Arab Republic. At the same time, we should expect a suspension of discussions between the leadership of Iraq and the US administration to withdraw US troops from the country, which the Iraqi parliament called for at the beginning of the year. Currently, about 5,200 US troops and officers are deployed in the Arab country.
As EADaily reported, the United States is in the process of deploying anti-aircraft defense systems to Iraq to “protect the US forces in the event of a potential Iranian attack.” The head of the Central Command of the US Armed Forces (CENTCOM), General Kenneth Mackenzie, said this March 10 during a hearing in the Committee on Armed Forces of the House of Representatives of the US Congress.
“We are in the process of delivering air defense systems, in particular, missile defense systems to Iraq, in order to protect ourselves from another potential Iranian attack,” the general informed.
Earlier this year, the Pentagon announced that it was trying to obtain permission from Iraq to import Patriot air defense and missile defense systems into this Arab country “to better protect American troops after Iran’s missile strike on January 8th.”
During visits to seven countries over the past six weeks, CENTCOM commander General Kenneth Mackenzie warned US troops that the Iranian missile strike “was hardly the last salvo after Tehran lost such a legendary military figure as General Suleymani.” “They (the Iranian authorities. – Ed.) Are under great pressure, and (state) structures under great pressure can react very aggressively,” Mackenzie told US sailors stationed in the Arabian Sea.
Washington officials say Iran and its “satellites” in the region used rockets and mortars to launch local attacks on the US military after the death of Suleimani. In this regard, The Washington Post newspaper pointed to a Saudi plane shot down over Yemen on February 14, which was allegedly hit by Iran’s allied Hussite Yemeni rebels from the Kub-2K12 anti-aircraft missile system (NATO-SA-6 )
Recall that at the end of 2019, the United States carried out air raids against the Iraqi paramilitary group Kataib Hezbollah. The Pentagon called the death of an American citizen (civilian in the service of the US Armed Forces) based on K1 in the Iraqi Kirkuk region the cause of the air strikes on the pro-Iranian group on December 29 in Iraq and Syria. According to the American side, the Kataib Hezbollah militants stood behind a rocket attack on the December 27 base, which is jointly used by the US and Iraqi military.
At least 25 Kataib Hezbollah fighters were killed and about 55 injured after three US air strikes in Iraq on the last Sunday of last year. One of the attacks was carried out in the area of the city of Al-Qa’im on the border with Syria (adjacent to the Syrian Abu Kamal). Two points of presence of Kataib Hezbollah were attacked on Syrian territory. The raid involved drones and multi-role fighters F-16 US Air Force.
The commander of the Kods special forces within the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Kassem Suleimani died on the night of January 3 as a result of an air strike at Baghdad International Airport. The Pentagon has confirmed that an Iranian general was killed in a U.S. air operation.
The Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, on the same day ordered “tough answer” to the death of the legendary Iranian general. US President Donald Trump, in turn, threatened Iran with the possibility of hitting 52 targets in the Islamic Republic if its leadership decides to give a military response to the liquidation of General Suleymani.
On the night of January 8, Iran attacked with two missile bases in Iraq, on which the US military is stationed. Given that as a result of these attacks, not a single member of the coalition led by the United States was seriously injured, President Trump decided not to retaliate against Iranian targets. According to the Pentagon, as a result of an Iranian missile strike, 109 US troops deployed, including on the Ain al-Assad base in western Iraq, received light concussions.
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