US President Donald Trump has given the military permission to avenge the deaths of two US troops and a British serviceman in a rocket attack on Camp Taji outside the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, Defense Secretary Mark Esper confirmed.
“I have spoken with the president. He’s given me the authority to do what we need to do, consistent with his guidance. And, you know – if that becomes the case,” Esper told journalists.
He refused to disclose any details of a possible military response, only saying that he was “not going to take any option off the table right now,” and that the Pentagon was “focused” on the Iraq-based military groups that could be responsible for the attack.
A high-ranked US general earlier insisted that the Pentagon knew with a “high degree of certainty” who the perpetrators of the rocket strike were.
A total of 18 rockets struck Camp Taji on Wednesday, killing two US troops and one British soldier, while injuring 12 others.
The base, located 27km north of Baghdad, is used by the US coalition to train the local security forces.
It’s the second attack against Camp Taji since the start of the year, with an Iraqi soldier injured by rocket fire in January.
US troops almost had to completely withdraw from Iraq at the start of the year after an American drone strike killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and a number of Iraqi Shia militia officials at the Baghdad International Airport.
The people in Iraq were outraged at the US for trying to settle score with Tehran on their soil.
The local parliament even adopted a resolution, seeking to “end the presence of any foreign troops on Iraqi soil,” but it was eventually brushed off by Washington.
However, Tehran retaliated for Soleimani death, striking two US facilities in Iraq with missiles on January 8. No lives were lost, but the Pentagon said that more than 100 American troops have suffered “mild traumatic brain injury.”
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