Iraqi politicians blame government inaction for attacks on military base

Iraqi politicians blame government inaction for attacks on military base
Iraqi politicians blame government inaction for attacks on military base

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Politicians in Baghdad held the government responsible on Monday for an attack on an Iraqi airbase that hosts US troops amid rising tensions between Washington and Tehran on Iraqi soil.

Military officials said at least eight Katyusha-type rockets landed on Al Balad airbase, located 80 kilometres north of Baghdad.

The rockets injured two Iraqi officers and two airmen.

Some American troops are believed to have departed military bases around Iraq amid security concerns over the past two weeks.

Iraqis will suffer from the latest attack, said Sarkwat Shamsi, an Iraqi member of parliament.

“Any rocket attack on foreign embassies in Iraq is an attack on Iraqi interests because these attacks weaken Iraq and its economy. So, people will suffer,” Mr Shamsi said.

“That is why we want Iraqi security forces to be responsible to protect Iraqi interests and stop uncontrolled armed groups,” he said, adding that if Iraq fails to protect its people, the US and other states will retaliate unilaterally.

US-Iranian tensions escalated after the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Suleimani near Baghdad airport earlier this month.

He was killed by a US drone strike along with an Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi Al Muhandis.

Their deaths have triggered concerns that Iraq could be engulfed in a major war between Washington and Tehran.

The Iraqi government must take the appropriate to ensure that Baghdad is not "dragged into a proxy war", an Iraqi official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said.

“It is an attack on Iraq’s sovereignty and power, Iran is using Iraq as a base to avenge the US killing of General Qassem Suleimani,” the official said.

Iran and its supporters in Baghdad never anticipated the attack on General Suleimani, he added.

“Unfortunately, the leadership in Baghdad has given the all clear for Tehran and Washington to do as they please in the country,” he said.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned the latest attack on Iraqi soil.

“These continued violations of Iraq’s sovereignty by groups not loyal to the Iraqi government must end.”

“I pray for the speedy recovery of the injured a call on the government of Iraq to hold those responsible for this attack on the Iraqi people,” Mr Pompeo said on Twitter.

Although there was no immediate claim of responsibility, the US has previously blamed such attacks on Iran-backed militia groups on Iraq.

The development comes as at least ten people were injured after Iraqi security forces clashed with anti-government protesters in the holy city of Karbala late Sunday.

Protesters took to the streets their frustration against US-Iranian interference in Iraq’s internal affairs, high levels of corruption and lack of basic services.

Updated: January 13, 2020 11:41 AM

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