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US Lawmaker Lindsey Graham Seeks ‘Aggressive’ Response to Rocket Strike on Coalition Base in Iraq

© AP Photo / Susan WalshSen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., talks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., talks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020.  - Sputnik International
On Wednesday, at least three service members were killed and 12 wounded at the Camp Taji military base in Iraq, which hosts US-led coalition troops, after an attack on the facility involving an estimated 18 Katyusha rockets.

Senate Judiciary Committee chairman and ranking GOP lawmaker, Lindsey Graham, warned on Thursday of a “very aggressive” response by the US to Wednesday’s rocket attack on the US-led coalition's Camp Taji base in Iraq.

Although no one has claimed responsibility for the deadly attack, US officials have pointed the finger on “Iranian backed Shia militia groups”.

“I think the president’s going to be very aggressive,” Graham said, cited by The Hill. “At the time of our choosing, we should hit back”.

In response to a question on whether he meant retaliation against the militia or Iran itself, the Senator said, “the people who actually launched the rockets”.

“Put Iran on notice that we’re going to hold them accountable in the future for this,” Graham reportedly added.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim Risch suggested that, “if I was the Iran proxy group, I would not sleep well tonight”.

Earlier in the day, US President Donald Trump remarked at the White House that US officials do not know if Iran is behind the latest rocket attack on the base.

“It hasn't been fully determined it was Iran," Trump said. "As you know, it was a rebel group, but most likely it looked like it could be backed by Iran. We'll see what the response is”.

US Central Command Commander Gen. Kenneth McKenzie told lawmakers during a hearing earlier on Thursday that coalition and Iraq Security Forces are still investigating the attack.

Earlier on Thursday, US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper said that the attack was carried out by Iranian-backed Shia militia groups, according to The Hill.

“All options are on the table as we work with our partners to bring the perpetrators to justice and maintain deterrence,” Esper reportedly said. “We will take any action necessary to protect our forces in Iraq and the region”.

On Wednesday, Iraq's Camp Taji, located roughly 17 miles north of Baghdad, was struck by an estimated 18 107-millimeter Katyusha rockets, according to a coalition statement. The attack left at least three personnel – two US citizens and one UK citizen – dead, as well as "approximately" 12 others wounded.

The attack came shortly following news that the US would move air and missile defence systems into Iraq to defend against what the Pentagon has described as ballistic missile and drone threats in the region.

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