Iraqi security forces stopped rockets from being fired near US troopÂ positions north of Baghdad yesterday. It was the latestÂ of such attacks on US forces over the months and a notable success for the Iraqi military in preventing them.
Iraq’s Security Media Cell, an official military body that reports on security matters, said they seized a group of rockets in the Rashidiya area north of Baghdad yesterday, just east of Camp Taji where USÂ troops are located. Two rockets that did go off during the â€œterrorist actâ€ landed in a remote area and resulted in no casualties, according to the Cell.
â€œOur forces were able to obtain important information leading to knowledge of those who carried out this terrorist act,â€ the Cell said in a series of tweets.
The Cell did not provide further information on who carried out the attack.
There have been several attacks on US forces in Iraq so far this year and in 2019. The US military is in Iraq to help the country fight the Islamic State (IS) as part of the global anti-IS coalition. One of the most notable attacks targeting US forces was at theÂ Taji base in March and led to US service members being killed. Many such attacks go unclaimed, but the United StatesÂ suspects Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) areÂ the culprits. Tensions escalated even further between the United States and Iran afterÂ Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani was killed in aÂ US drone attack in Baghdad in January following attacks by militia supporters on the US Embassy there.
The conflict between the United StatesÂ and some armed PMU aligned with Iran has put Iraq in a difficult position. Iraq receives help from the United StatesÂ against IS, which is still active throughout the country. Neighboring Iran, which backs some PMU groups, is also a major political and economic ally of Iraq. The PMU also wieldÂ considerable power and was helpful in defeating IS.
The news of the thwarted rocket attacks is significant because it shows Iraq is able to stop such incidents from occurring. Many previous attacks, while not always causing considerable damage or casualties, successfully hit where US troops are based in Iraq.
The Security Media Cell said this attack targeted Iraqi forces and was â€œwithout losses.â€ There are no exclusively US bases in Iraq, and US troops stay alongside Iraqi and other international coalition forces.
The successful Iraqi operation follows dialogÂ between Iraq and the United StatesÂ on reducing American troop levels in the country. The Iraqi parliament voted to expel US forces in January following the air strike against Soleimani. The United StatesÂ has removed troops since then during the coronavirus pandemic. In a joint statement last week, the United States and Iraq said the former would continue to pull out forces due to Iraqâ€™s success against IS. Iraq also promised to protect US forces during the talks.
The United StatesÂ granted Iraq a lengthened waiver to Iran sanctionsÂ allowing them to import Iranian electricity after speaking to Kadhimi.