A fusillade of incoming 107mm rockets rained down on targets within Camp Taji, Iraq on SAT 14 MARCH 2020.
In the attack, which was the second instance of U.S. forces being targeted by rocket fire this month, at least three U.S. soldiers were reported to be seriously injured, according to U.S. military officials.
It was also reported that Iraqi Security Forces have made one arrest related to the incident. Thus far, investigative efforts have resulted in the uncovering of several rocket launchers which had been surreptitiously stored in a garage near Camp Taji. Twelve ready-to-deploy unfired rockets were also found at the same garage location by Iraqi investigative officials.
The Iraqi military released a statement alluding to a “blatant attack” that had made significant destructive impact on Iraqi air defense units.
This attack is rather alarming to U.S. officials because it appears to be a part of a developing recent trend of violent offensive actions directed toward U.S. forces in Iraq. As recently as WED 11 MARCH 2020 a similar barrage of rocket fire also hit Camp Taji, resulting in the deaths of another two U.S. soldiers, as well as the death of a British service member.
Reprisal strikes were launched by the U.S. military on FRI 13 MARCH 2020 on various targets associated with Kataib Hezbollah, an Iranian-linked militia that U.S. intel analysts have deemed responsible for the recent spate of attacks on U.S. forces. These retaliatory strikes by the U.S. were met with a strident rebuke by the Iraqi government, which characterized the U.S. measures as a “violation of national sovereignty.” Iraqi officials also reported that the U.S. attacks also resulted in the unintended fatalities of five members of local Iraqi security forces. The Iraqi government on Saturday 14 MARCH 2020 registered it’s ardent disapproval of unilateral military action exacted by the U.S. on targets within Iraq’s borders, expressing in a statement: “We refuse that the American forces or others take any action (in Iraq) without the approval of the Iraqi government and the (approval of) the commander in chief of the (Iraqi) armed forces, as the did on on the morning of 03/13/2020.”
In the past year, U.S. Department of Defense officials have substantively increased military personnel and equipment assets in strategic and tactical locations throughout the Middle East region. These adjustments come as a part of the U.S. governments’s evolving threat awareness posture as relates to the Iranian regime and it’s vast network of related independent militia elements in the region.
A stern warning was recently issued by Abu Ali al-Askari, who is identified as a de facto spokesman for the terrorist-designated militia organization Kataib Hexbollah: “Iraqi security forces should distance themselves from coalition troops and facilities by SUN 15 MARCH 2020.” This ominous warning clearly suggests the possibility of further and continued attacks on U.S. forces in the region by Kataib Hexbollah or similar organizations.
At least 500 Americans have thus far been killed by militias in the region since the war that followed the U.S. military’s 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Currently approximately 5,000 U.S forces are boots on the ground in Iraq. These remaining U.S. forces are primarily tasked with missions related to assisting the Iraqi Government with combatting the resurgence of the Islamic State.