· At the time of writing, no individual group has claimed responsibility for the rocket strikes. However, based on information regarding the nature of the attack and similar previous incidents involving US military targets, it is likely to have been perpetrated by an Iranian-backed, anti-US militia, such as Kataib Hizballah.
· The attack constitutes the most significant incident in recent weeks in the ongoing confrontation between the US and Iran and their allies, after tensions spiked in January following the US killing of Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani. Nevertheless, there have been at least 20 incidents targeting US military interests in Iraq since late 2019.
· The escalation in hostilities in January has led to intensified calls for the expulsion of US and foreign forces from the country, with Iraq’s parliament also voting for their removal. However, ongoing political uncertainty surrounding government formation, which has significantly delayed decision-making processes, has likely aggravated anti-US sentiment amongst the more hardline Shia militias.
· Shortly following the attack on al-Taji, apparent retaliatory airstrikes targeted the Syrian border town of Albukamal on Iraq’s western border, reportedly killing 18 Iraqi militia members. The crossing is known to be of great strategic importance for Iran and its proxies, and has been used to transfer weapons and supplies to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces. Iraqi Shia militias captured the area from Islamic State in late 2017, and essentially control the border crossing point.