Rockets hit military base hosting US troops near Baghdad airport

Four Katyusha rockets struck a military base next to Baghdad International Airport, above. (AFP file photo)
Updated 10 December 2019

Rockets hit military base hosting US troops near Baghdad airport

  • Security forces found a rocket launcher and several rockets in a search of the area

BAGHDAD: Several rockets slammed into an Iraqi military complex that hosts US forces next to Baghdad International Airport on Monday, wounding six Iraqi troops, the military said.
Security forces found launchers with rockets that had not been fired properly, indicating a larger attack was planned, a military statement said.
It is the latest in an uptick in rocket attacks targeting either Iraqi bases where American troops are located or the US embassy in Baghdad.
US defense officials have blamed several on Iran-backed factions in Iraq.
Security sources told AFP that the wounded in Monday’s attack belong to Iraq’s Counter-Terrorism Service, an elite unit that was created and trained by US forces.
Two of them are in critical condition, the sources said.
The military complex also hosts a small group of US soldiers and American diplomats.
There have been at least nine attacks against US targets in Iraq in the span of six weeks.
There have been no claims of responsibility and no US forces have been wounded.
Security sources have linked at least one last week to Kataib Hezbollah, a powerful Shiite faction close to Tehran and blacklisted by Washington.
Iran holds vast sway in Iraq, especially among the more hardline elements of the Hashed Al-Shaabi, a security force largely made up of Shiite militia.
A US defense official said the rocket attacks made the Hashed a bigger security threat to American troops in Iraq than the Daesh group, the militant movement which the US has vowed to help Baghdad wipe out.
On Friday the United States imposed sanctions on three senior Hashed figures.
Tensions between Iran and the US have soared since Washington pulled out of a landmark nuclear agreement with Tehran last year and reimposed crippling sanctions.
Baghdad — which is close to both countries and whose many security forces have been trained by either the US or Iran — is worried about being caught in the middle.
US officials say they are considering plans to deploy between 5,000 and 7,000 additional troops to the region to counter its arch-foe Iran.
 


Turkey, Greece agree to resume talks to resolve disputes

Updated 22 September 2020

Turkey, Greece agree to resume talks to resolve disputes

  • Erdogan called for a regional conference that would gather all sides involved in the dispute — including Turkish Cypriots
  • The two neighboring NATO members have been locked in a tense standoff over energy exploitation rights

ANKARA, Turkey: Turkey and Greece are ready to resume talks in a bid to overcome a dispute over maritime boundaries and rights to exploit oil and gas resources, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s office said Tuesday.
The statement followed his video conference meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Council President Charles Michel.
During the meeting, Erdogan called for a regional conference that would gather all sides involved in the dispute — including Turkish Cypriots — and said the “momentum” for dialogue should be protected,” according to the statement.
The two neighboring NATO members have been locked in a tense standoff over energy exploitation rights in an area between Turkey’s southern coast, several Greek islands and the war-divided island of Cyprus. Turkey sent a research vessel into the disputed waters this summer.
Following mediation efforts by Germany and others, Turkey pulled back the research vessel to port and both countries eased their naval presence and halted military exercises, paving the way for a dialogue.
It was not clear when and how the talks would begin. Erdogan told Merkel and Michel that “steps to be taken by Greece” would determine the course of the talks.
Greek-Turkish talks to resolve disputes were last held in 2016.
The Turkish leader also said he hoped that the next European Union summit would breathe new life into Turkish-EU ties, including allowing Turkish citizens visa-free travel rights to Europe and sealing a new agreement on migration.
EU members Greece and Cyprus had been pushing for EU sanctions against Turkey at the Sept. 24-25 summit meeting to due Turkey’s search for energy inside Cyprus’ economic zone. But the summit has been postponed for a week because Michel has gone into quarantine after a close collaborator was diagnosed with COVID-19.