Airstrike hits Iraqi militia in Taji, kills six - report

Taji.
Taji. Photo credit: Google Maps.

An airstrike hit an Iraqi militia convoy in Taji north of Baghdad on Saturday, killing multiple people.

The attack was reported originally by Reuters as being conducted by the United States, however, a US official has since told The Associated Press that the US was not involved.

The Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), a state-sponsored organisation composed of around 40 militias, has confirmed the attack and said that it hit one of its medical convoys. Reuters and Al Jazaeera report that six people were killed. Three others are understood to be critically injured.

A tweet from Baxtiyar Goran, who works for Kurdistan Regional Government, said the airstrike targeted the vehicle convoy which had an important figure in it. However, this has been denied by the PMF.

The attack is reported to have occured near Camp Taji, a military complex in the region, where New Zealand has personnel. In November, the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) said it had 45 people in its current rotation.

Saturday's airstrike follows the death of Iranian official Qassem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Revoluntary Guard Corp's foreign arm, the Quds Force, and who has been instrumental in many of Iran's foreign operations, including assisting in Syria during its civil war. 

Soleimani was killed when an airstrike hit Baghdad's airport on Friday. Militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis was also killed.

The airstrike triggered concerns of a regional war, with Iran threatening the US with revenge after the strike.

The threatened response has prompted dozens of US citizens in the Iraqi oil city of Basra to flee while the US Embassy in Iraq has told Americans to "depart Iraq immediately" and not approach the embassy. 

The Trump-directed attack comes after a week of heightened tension between Iran and the US. Last week, an America contractor in Iraq was killed in a rocket attack which the US has blamed on Iranian-backed militia. In response, the US killed 25 Kataeb Hezbollah fighters, leading militias to attack the US Embassy in Baghdad.

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