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Rockets hit base housing US and coalition troops north of Baghdad

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A barrage of rockets hit a base housing U.S. and other coalition troops north of Baghdad, Iraqi security officials said Saturday, just days after a similar attack killed three servicemen, including two Americans.

At least two Iraqi soldiers were wounded in the attack at Camp Taji, according to the Iraqi officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

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The officials said over a dozen rockets landed inside the base. Some struck the area where coalition forces are based, while others fell on a runway used by Iraqi forces.

The was no immediate comment from the coalition regarding Saturday’s attack.

The attack was unusual because it occurred during the day. Previous assaults on military bases housing U.S. troops typically occurred at night.

The previous rocket attack against Camp Taji on Wednesday also killed a British serviceman. It prompted American airstrikes Friday against what U.S. officials said were mainly weapons facilities belonging to Kataib Hezbollah, the Iran-backed militia group believed to be responsible.

However, Iraq’s military said those airstrikes killed five security force members and a civilian, while wounding five fighters from the Popular Mobilization Forces, an umbrella organization including an array of militias, including some Iran-backed groups.

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Iran-backed Shiite militia groups vowed to exact revenge for Friday’s U.S. strikes, signalling another cycle of tit-for-tat violence between Washington and Tehran that could play out inside Iraq.

America’s killing of Iraqi security forces might also give Iran-backed militia groups more reason to stage counterattacks against U.S. troops in Iraq, analysts said.

“We can’t forget that the PMF is a recognized entity within the Iraqi security forces; they aren’t isolated from the security forces and often are co-located on the same bases or use the same facilities,” said Sajad Jiyad, a researcher and former managing director of the Bayan Center, a Baghdad-based think tank.

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“Now the (Iran-backed) groups who supported the initial strike in Taji, who were the most outspoken, feel obliged, authorized, maybe even legitimized to respond, ostensibly to protect Iraqi sovereignty but really to keep the pressure up on Americans,” he added.

“There are no red lines anymore,” Jiyad said.

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Wednesday’s attack on Camp Taji was the deadliest to target U.S. troops in Iraq since a late December rocket attack on an Iraqi base, which killed a U.S. contractor. That attack set in motion a series of attacks that brought Iraq to the brink of war.

After the contractor was killed, America launched airstrikes targeting Kataib Hezbollah, which in turn led to protests at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

A U.S. drone strike in Baghdad then killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, a top commander responsible for expeditionary operations across the wider Mideast. Iran struck back with a ballistic missile attack on U.S. forces in Iraq, the Islamic Republic’s most direct assault on America since the 1979 seizing of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.

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The U.S. and Iran stepped back from further attacks after the Soleimani incident. A senior U.S. official said in late January, when U.S.-Iran tensions had cooled, that the killing of Americans constituted a red line that could spark more violence.

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(AP)


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‘Like George W. Bush after 9/11’: Kayleigh McEnany declares Trump Bible photo op a historic moment

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White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Wednesday defended the use of force against protesters in order to clear way for President Donald Trump's photo op at St. John's Episcopal Church.

At her daily press briefing, McEnany was asked why it was necessary for Trump to walk to the church, where held up a Bible.

McEnany suggested that Trump's photo op had been a historic moment.

"This was a very important moment," she explained. "I would note that through all of time, we've seen presidents and leaders across the world who have had leadership moments and very powerful symbols that were important for a nation to see at any given time, to show a message of resilience and determination."

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When police killed Breonna Taylor in her own bed it wasn’t caught on video

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Whatever you think about the unrest gripping this country–whether you’re outraged by cops’ across America brutally repressing peaceful protesters or the people breaking windows and looting businesses–the proximate cause was officer Derek Chauvin, who was still on the job despite being named in 18 previous complaints, slowly murdering George Floyd on the street–compressing his throat for 8 minutes and 46 seconds–as other officers looked on and a small crowd screamed that Chauvin was killing him. That video quickly went viral and here we are.

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US suspends flights by Chinese airlines in spat with Beijing

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Washington on Wednesday ordered the suspension of all flights by Chinese airlines into and out of the United States after Beijing failed to allow American carriers to resume services to China.

The move adds to a growing set of tension points between the world's two biggest economies in the aftermath of the coronavirus crisis.

The US action, which takes effect June 16, but could be implemented sooner if President Donald Trump orders it, affects four Chinese civilian carriers, including Air China and China Eastern Airlines, the Department of Transportation said.

"US carriers have asked to resume passenger service, beginning June 1st. The Chinese government's failure to approve their requests is a violation of our Air Transport Agreement," the department said in a statement.

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