The U.S. launched airstrikes on weapons storage facilities in Iraq in retaliation for a rocket attack that killed two U.S. service members and a British soldier, the Defense Department said Thursday. Fourteen other people were injured in the rocket attack Wednesday evening on Camp Taji, an Iraqi base north of Baghdad, the Pentagon said Thursday. Five were described as being in “urgent” condition.
One British and two American personnel were killed and about a dozen people were wounded when 18 small rockets hit Iraq’s Taji military camp north of Baghdad on Wednesday, U.S. officials told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity. Any indication that Iran-backed militia were responsible could spark a new round of confrontation between the United States and Iran.
At least three rockets struck the US embassy in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, on Sunday. At least three people were injured, security sources told Reuters. This would be the first time in years that staff have been hurt in such attacks. No group has claimed responsibility but the US has blamed Iran-backed military factions in Iraq in the past.
Iraq’s top Shi’ite Muslim cleric on Friday condemned the U.S.-Iranian military confrontation taking place on Iraqi soil, saying it risked plunging the war-ravaged country and the wider Middle East into deeper conflict. Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani said attacks by both sides inside Iraq this month showed blatant disregard for its sovereignty and its people stood to suffer most from Washington and Tehran’s conflict.
Dozens of people stormed the compound of the United States embassy in Iraq on Tuesday in response to American airstrikes that killed dozens of fighters from an Iran-backed militia group. American fighter jets on Sunday bombed weapons depots in Iraq and Syria that the U.S. said were linked with a group called Kataeb Hezbollah, which it blames for attacks on coalition bases in recent months.
The Iraqi prime minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi has said he will offer his resignation to parliament to allow lawmakers to choose a new government, in a move that follows weeks of violent anti-government protests. The announcement came after weeks of anti-government unrest in which security forces have killed around 400 mostly peaceful demonstrators and the country has careered towards a serious escalation of violence.
Iraqi security forces killed at least 14 people in the Shi’ite holy city of Kerbala overnight after opening fire on protesters, medical and security sources said, in a return to tactics denounced by the government’s own internal inquiry. Thousands of Iraqis took to the streets this week in a second wave of protests against Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi’s government and a political elite they say are corrupt and out of touch.
More than 6,000 protesters have been injured and 104 have died during protests in Iraq this week, according to the country’s interior ministry. Contradicting many eyewitness reports, spokesman Saad Maan told Iraqi television that no government forces had fired directly at protesters. It is the most serious disruption to hit the country since the defeat of Islamic State two years ago.
The death toll from days of violent demonstrations across Iraq surged to 46 on Friday, most of them killed in the last 24 hours as unrest rapidly accelerated and the country’s most powerful cleric placed the blame squarely on politicians. In a rare intervention, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, whose word is law for most of Iraq’s majority Shi’ites, called on protesters and the security forces to avoid violence.
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi on Wednesday declared a curfew in Baghdad until further notice after at least seven people were killed and more than 400 were injured during two days of nationwide anti-government protests. Curfews were imposed earlier in three southern cities while elite counter-terrorism troops opened fire on protesters trying to storm Baghdad airport.