February 16, 2020
New Rocket Attacks Strike U.S. Military Base In Baghdad, 'Sirens Of Ambulances' Reportedly Heard After Blasts

Multiple explosions went off at a military base used by U.S. troops in Baghdad, Iraq, early on Sunday morning. The blasts were the result of a rocket attack against the base, which sits near the U.S. embassy in Iraq, according to an American military source who spoke to Reuters.

The missile strikes were the 19th such attack against the embassy or nearby base since October 2019, according to a report by the AFP. No group has claimed responsibility for any of the attacks, including the latest strikes on Sunday. U.S. military officials again named the Iran-backed militia group Hashd al-Shaabi — also known as the Popular Mobilization Forces — as the most likely perpetrator of the rocket assault.

Officials who spoke to the news agencies did not say whether the new rocket attacks inflicted any casualties, nor did they reveal how much damage, if any, was caused by the multiple strikes. Reporting via his Twitter account, Baghdad-based independent journalist Raveen Aujmaya said that "sirens of ambulances [were] heard roaring through Baghdad" following the missile attack.

U.S. military spokesperson Myles B. Caggins III confirmed the attacks by "small rockets," via his official Twitter account, adding that there were "no casualties" in the incident. Caggins said that the attacks took place at 3:24 a.m. on Sunday in Baghdad — which would be 7:24 p.m. EST in the U.S.

Earlier on Sunday, Harakat al-Nujaba, an Iranian-backed militia that is part of the Popular Mobilization Forces, issued a warning to U.S. forces in Iraq, according to the AFP report. In the statement, the group said that it had begun a "countdown" to attacks that would drive U.S. troops from Iraq, and that "we are closer than you think."

The statement on social media was accompanied by a photograph of an American military vehicle, AFP reported.

The so-called Green Zone in Baghdad, where the U.S. embassy and adjacent base are located, is also home to several other embassies, and serves as the seat of the weakened Iraqi central government.

The new rocket attack comes about five weeks after an Iranian rocket attack on two bases in Northern Iraq that housed U.S. troops. Those attacks were announced by Iran as retaliation for the drone strike assassination of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, a killing that was ordered by Donald Trump.

More than 100 U.S. troops suffered traumatic brain injuries as a result of that January 8 attack, though Trump has dismissed the severity of their injuries as "headaches."

The latest attack on the embassy area also comes just three weeks after a reported five rockets struck the U.S. embassy compound in Baghdad, an attack also blamed on the Popular Mobilization Forces militia by American officials.