US forces attacked 14 times in past year near Baghdad: State Dept

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American personnel and bases were targeted 14 times near Baghdad in 2019, according to a senior adviser at the US State Department.

“Before tonight, there were 14 attacks in the vicinity of Baghdad - including the airport - in 2019,” Len Khodorkovsky, a senior adviser with the Iran Action Group at the US Department of State, told Al Arabiya English on Wednesday.

The attacks are believed to be initiated by “Iran-linked groups with the intention of threatening American forces,” according to expert Elexer Palko-Schraa at Aldebaran Threat Consultants, adding that definitive evidence regarding who initiated the attacks is not publicly available.

The Pentagon said on Wednesday it holds Iran responsible for the latest attack against US military in Iraq. More than a dozen ballistic missiles were launched against US military at Iraqi military bases on Wednesday morning.

“It is clear that these missiles were launched from Iran and targeted at least two Iraqi military bases hosting US military and coalition personnel at Al-Assad and Erbil,” according to a statement from Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Jonathan Hoffman.

In mid-October of 2019 Qassem Soleimani, the top commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds-Force, instructed his Shia militia allies in Iraq to step up attacks on US targets in the country using sophisticated weapons provided by Iran, according to Reuters citing two militia commanders and two security sources briefed on the gathering.

The Trump administration has held Soleimani and his Iranian-backed Kata’ib Hezbollah militia responsible for a December 27 rocket attack in Iraq in which a US civilian contractor was killed.

Before he was killed in a drone strike ordered by US President Trump, Soleimani was plotting imminent attacks on American diplomats and military personnel, according to US Vice President Mike Pence.

Iran’s IRGC was responsible for 17 percent of all deaths of US personnel in Iraq from 2003 to 2011 — roughly 603 casualties, a US State Department report estimated.

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