British soldier among three dead after rocket strike in Iraq
11 March 2020, 20:48 | Updated: 12 March 2020, 05:37
A member of the British military has been killed alongside two Americans following a rocket attack on Taji air base in Iraq, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has confirmed.
A US Defence official confirmed the American deaths, and said multiple other have been injured in the strike.
In a statement released early on Thursday morning, the MoD said the deceased was a member of the Royal Army Medical Corps.
"The service person's family have been informed and have requested a period of privacy before further details are released," the statement said.
"Our thoughts and sympathies are with the family and friends at this sad time."
Prime Minister Boris Johnson released a statement calling the attack "deplorable".
He said: " the attack against the Taji military base in Iraq is deplorable.
"Our servicemen and women work tirelessly every day to uphold security and stability in the region - their presence makes us all safer.
"The Foreign Secretary has spoken to the US Secretary of State and we will continue to liaise with our international partners to fully understand the details of this abhorrent attack."
US military spokesman Colonel Myles Caggins said 12 more people from the Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve were injured after more than 15 small rockets hit the base on Wednesday.
Taji airbase is used as a training site for Coalition forces.
The Coalition @CJTFOIR confirms more than 15 small rockets impacted Iraq’s Camp Taji base hosting Coalition troops, March 11 at 7:35 p.m. (Iraq Time). Assessment and investigation ongoing, follow @OIRSpox & @SecMedCell for updates. https://t.co/oNgNfCEYG7— OIR Spokesman Col. Myles B. Caggins III (@OIRSpox) March 11, 2020
Coalition spokesperson Col Myles Caggins tweeted: The Coalition @CJTFOIR confirms more than 15 small rockets impacted Iraq's Camp Taji base hosting Coalition troops, March 11 at 7:35 p.m. (Iraq Time). Assessment and investigation ongoing, follow @OIRSpox & @SecMedCell for updates."
In a statement, the US military said the Iraqi troops had discovered a truck with a rocket launcher in the back with three rockets still on the back.
In January, the MoD said that there were around 400 personnel in Iraq across three main bases - Camp Taji near Baghdad, Union III in Baghdad, and Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Officials did not say what group they believe launched the rocket attack, but Kataib Hezbollah or another Iranian-backed Shia militia group is likely.
Kataib Hezbollah was responsible for a rocket attack on a military base in Kirkuk in December that killed a U.S. contractor, prompting American military strikes in response.
It led to protests at the US embassy in Baghdad which was followed on January 3 by a US airstrike that killed Iran's most powerful military officer, General Qassem Soleimani, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a leader of the Iran-backed militias in Iraq, of which Kataib Hezbollah is a member.
Kataib Hezbollah has been designated a "foreign terrorist organisation" by the US State Department since 2009.