U.S. Strikes Back at Militia After Deadly Attack on Iraqi Base

The American military has begun retaliatory strikes against a militia believed responsible for the rocket attack that killed two Americans and a Briton, a U.S. defense official said Thursday night.

The official, who requested anonymity to discuss the operation, declined to say where, exactly, the strikes were taking place or provide other details.

Earlier Thursday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said that the U.S. was considering several options on how to respond to the rocket attack.

The deadly assault on the Iraqi base on Wednesday occurred only months after a similar assault almost led to a direct military confrontation with Iran.

Katyusha rockets struck Camp Taji, an Iraqi base that hosts coalition personnel for training and advising missions, the coalition said in an emailed statement. About a dozen people were wounded.Iraqi Security Forces found a rocket-rigged truck a few miles from Camp Taji after the strike, according to the statement.

An Iranian-backed Shiite militia group was probably behind the deadly attack as the Islamic Republic continues to use asymmetrical warfare to target American interests across the Middle East, the head of U.S. Central Command said Thursday.

“The Iranian proxy group Kataib Hezbollah is the only group known to have previously conducted an indirect fire attack of this scale against U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq,” General Kenneth McKenzie said at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. This indicates Iran’s “desire to continue malign activities” despite periods of decreased tension with the U.S., he said.

A rocket assault in late December that killed an American contractor and wounded U.S. service personnel resulted in the U.S. striking five bases in Iraq and Syria used by an Iranian-backed militia. Then in early January the U.S. killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, who the Trump administration accused of planning more attacks against American targets. Iran responded by firing more than a dozen missiles at U.S.-Iraqi bases.

— With assistance by Travis J Tritten

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