Pentagon Weighs Response After Two US Troops Killed in Iran-Backed Rocket Attack

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Posted: Mar 12, 2020 5:10 PM
Pentagon Weighs Response After Two US Troops Killed in Iran-Backed Rocket Attack

Source: AP Photo/ Evan Vucci

Two U.S. service members and one British troop were killed in a rocket attack on a military base in Iraq on Wednesday, around 7:35 p.m. local time. Iraq's Camp Taji base was hosting U.S.-led coalition forces when more than 15 rockets struck the military base, killing the three coalition members. Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the attack was perpetrated by Iranian-backed Shia militant groups. 

In a statement, defense officials said a pickup truck that was used to carry out the attack was located by the Iraqi military. A rocket launcher capable of firing 30 rockets was mounted to the vehicle.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Thursday that "all options" were on the table as the U.S. and its partners work to bring the perpetrators to justice.

"Let me be clear," Esper warned. "The United States will not tolerate attacks against our people, our interests or our allies."

The defense secretary would not rule out the possibility of a retaliatory strike against Iran in response to Wednesday's attack. 

In December, a U.S. contractor was killed in Iraq by a rocket attack carried out by Iranian-backed militia groups. The U.S. launched retaliatory strikes against targets in the region, including the strike on Iranian Quds Force leader Qasem Soleimani. The death of the Iranian general brought tensions to a boil, prompting Iran to launch missiles at a base housing U.S. troops in Iraq. Iranian officials admitted to "unintentionally" shooting down a Ukrainian Airlines passenger plane carrying 176 people just hours after the strike. The victims on the plane were from Canada, the UK, Sweden, Ukraine, Germany, Afghanistan, and Iran. No Americans were killed.