Two rockets fall near airbase hosting US troops in Iraq: Security source

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Two rockets hit near an Iraqi airbase hosting US soldiers north of Baghdad on Sunday, three days ahead of a new “strategic dialogue” with Washington, a security source told AFP.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the strike, which caused no casualties or property damage, but the US routinely blames Iran-linked Iraqi factions for such attacks on its troops and diplomats.

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Sunday’s was the 40th attack against American interests – including troops, the Baghdad embassy or Iraqi supply convoys to foreign forces – since US President Joe Biden took office in January.

Two Americans and an Iraqi civilian have been killed in the attacks.

An Iraqi civilian working for a firm maintaining US fighter jets for the Iraqi air force was also wounded in one attack.

The operations are sometimes claimed by obscure groups experts say are smokescreens for Iranian-backed organisations long present in Iraq.

Qais al-Khazali, a senior pro-Iran figure in the state-sponsored Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary force, recently declared that the “resistance” was carrying out attacks and would step them up “unless the US withdraws all its combat forces from across Iraq”.

The latest attack came as Washington prepares to launch a strategic dialogue with the government of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, who has regularly received threats from pro-Iran factions.

Kadhimi faces the delicate task of balancing the interests of neighboring Iran and the US, arch-rivals who are both deeply involved in Iraqi politics.

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