Two U.S. service members and a troop from a coalition partner nation were killed in a rocket attack in Iraq, a Defense Department official told Military Times Wednesday.
The official said that there were also about a dozen people were injured in a volley of 18 rockets that hit Iraq’s Camp Taji base.
Britain’s Ministry of Defence on Thursday confirmed the death of Lance Corporal Brodie Gillon, 26, a Reserve with the Scottish and North Irish Yeomanry. She joined the regiment in September 2015 as a Combat Medical Technician (CMT), where she quickly progressed through her trade and military training to qualify as a Class 1 Combat Medical Technician in 2018.
Camp Taji, located just north of Baghdad, has been used as a training base for a number of years. There are as many as 6,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, training and advising Iraqi forces and conducting counterterrorism missions.
Officials did not say what group they believe launched the rocket attack, but Kataib Hezbollah or another Iranian-backed Shia militia group is likely. Officials with OIR confirmed 107 mm rockets were used in the attack, a favorite weapon of choice for Iran-backed militias operating in Iraq.
Kataib Hezbollah “has functioned as a spear point for IRGC [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] in Iraq. The rockets used are quite popular with Iran’s proxies,” Phillip Smyth, a research fellow with the Washington Institute, tweeted Wednesday.
Kataib Hezbollah was responsible for a late December rocket attack on a military base in Kirkuk that killed a U.S. contractor, prompting American military strikes in response.
That in turn led to protests at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. They were followed Jan. 3 by a U.S. airstrike that killed Iran’s most powerful military officer, Gen. 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 been designated a “foreign terrorist organization” by the State Department since 2009.
A truck with a make-shift rocket launch platform was found south of the area with three Katyusha rockets, according to the Iraq security media cell.
The rocket attack is reminiscent of the deadly Dec. 27, 2019, attack against the Iraqi Kirkuk military installation that resulted in the death of an American contractor.
The U.S. blamed an Iran-backed Shia militia known as Kata-ib Hezbollah, and launched retaliatory airstrikes against the group.
The incident nearly led to a broader conflict with Iran following a decapitation strike in early January that killed Iran Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani.
Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles targeting two Iraqi bases on Jan. 8 as retaliation for Soleimani’s death.
No U.S. troops were killed in the Iran ballistic missile strike but more than 100 troops have since been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury.
The U.S. has fingered Iran as responsible for dozens of rocket attacks targeting bases housing U.S. and coalition troops and has warned Tehran to halt the attacks.
This story contains information from the Associated Press. It is still developing. Stay with Military Times for updates.
Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.
Aaron Mehta was deputy editor and senior Pentagon correspondent for Defense News, covering policy, strategy and acquisition at the highest levels of the Defense Department and its international partners.
Howard Altman is an award-winning editor and reporter who was previously the military reporter for the Tampa Bay Times and before that the Tampa Tribune, where he covered USCENTCOM, USSOCOM and SOF writ large among many other topics.