Pro-Iran faction urges Iraqi troops ‘get away’ from US forces in bases

The vehemently anti-American group’s statement came after mortars and rockets hit near the U.S. embassy and a base where U.S. troops are stationed.

January 05, 2020 02:33 am | Updated 02:36 am IST - Baghdad

Kataeb Hezbollah, a hardline pro-Iran faction in Iraq’s Hashed al-Shaabi military network, warned Iraqi troops to keep their distance from US forces at military bases.

“We ask security forces in the country to get at least 1,000 metres away from U.S. bases starting on Sunday at 5:00pm (1930 IST),” said the group.

The vehemently anti-American group’s statement came after mortars and rockets hit near the U.S. embassy and a base where U.S. troops are stationed.

Mortar rounds hit an area near the U.S. embassy in Baghdad on Saturday evening, security sources told AFP .

Moments later, two rockets slammed into an Iraqi base where American troops are deployed, security sources said.

The Iraqi military confirmed the missile attacks in Baghdad and on Balad base and said there were no casualties.

Planes from the U.S.-led coalition were heard circulating above their bases in Kirkuk province, AFP ’s correspondent there said.

A U.S. defence official said the coalition’s surveillance capabilities had been redirected away from the Islamic State group to focus on possible new rocket attacks.

The missile attacks appeared to be the first hints of a retaliatory response to the killing by the U.S. of a top Iranian general near Baghdad airport on Friday.

Iran’s Major General Qasem Soleimani was killed alongside a top Iraqi paramilitary commander in the U.S. drone attack, which was the most dramatic escalation yet in spiralling tensions between Tehran and Washington.

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