March 14 (UPI) — Diplomatic officials in Iraq have summoned ambassadors from the United States and Britain to answer for missile strikes launched by the U.S. military on Friday that killed multiple Iraqi troops.
The retaliatory airstrikes responded to an attack on Wednesday that killed two U.S. troops and a British soldier at Camp Taji near Baghdad.
The Pentagon said the strikes Friday targeted five storage facilities that are used by the Iraqi militia group Kata’ib Hezbollah. U.S. officials said the depots contained weapons to be used against coalition troops.
Baghdad, however, said the attacks killed at least one civilian and five security personnel. The civilian was a cook at an airport in Karbala, officials said.
The U.S. strikes threaten to damage relations between the Iraqi and U.S. militaries, particularly in their fight against the Islamic State.
“The repeated violations the state is being subjected to are a dangerous and deliberate weakening of its abilities especially at a time when Iraq faces unprecedented challenges on political, economic, financial, security, and health fronts,” Iraqi President Barham Salih said Friday.
The U.S. Defense Department said Thursday the attacks were “defensive, proportional, and in direct response to the threat posed by Iranian-backed Shia militia groups who continue to attack bases hosting coalition forces.”
“The United States will not tolerate attacks against our people, our interests, or our allies,” Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said. “As we have demonstrated in recent months, we will take any action necessary to protect our forces in Iraq and the region.”
The U.S. Defense Department on Friday identified the two U.S. service members killed in Wednesday’s attack as Army Spc. Juan Miguel Mendez Covarrubias of Hanford, Calif., and Air Force Staff Sgt. Marshal D. Roberts of Owasso, Okla.
Mendez Covarrubias, 27, was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Calvary Divison in Fort Hood, Texas. Roberts, 28, was with the 219th Engineering Installation Squadron with the Oklahoma Air National Guard.