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Canadian soldiers safe after rocket attack in Iraq kills, injures multiple troops: DND

Canadian special forces soldiers, left and right, speak with Kurdish Peshmerga fighters at an observation post, in northern Iraq.
Canadian special forces soldiers, left and right, speak with Kurdish Peshmerga fighters at an observation post, in northern Iraq. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

The Department of National Defence says all Canadians are safe following a rocket attack on a military base in Iraq this evening that killed at least two Americans and a British soldier.

Another 12 people were wounded in the attack on Camp Taji, which has been home to Canadian soldiers involved in a NATO training mission in Iraq.

In a statement, Defence Department spokesman Daniel Le Bouthillier says all Canadian military personnel in the area about 20 kilometres north of Baghdad were confirmed safe.

Le Bouthillier would not say how many Canadians are at Camp Taji, citing security.

U.S. military officials confirmed more than 15 Katyusha rockets were fired at Camp Taji around 7:30 p.m. local time, with photos posted on social media showing a white van modified to carry a launcher for the Russian-made rockets.

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Canada has around 500 military personnel in Iraq to help train local forces and assist them in fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

U.S. officials did not say what group they believe launched the rocket attack, but Kataib Hezbollah or another Iranian-backed Shia militia group is likely.

Camp Taji, located just north of Baghdad, has been used as a training base for a number of years. There are as many as 6,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, training and advising Iraqi forces and conducting counterterror missions.

Kataib Hezbollah was responsible for a late December rocket attack on a military base in Kirkuk that killed a U.S. contractor, prompting American military strikes in response.

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READ MORE: No injuries reported after rockets strike near U.S. Embassy in Baghdad

That in turn led to protests at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. They were followed January 3 by a U.S. airstrike that killed Iran’s most powerful military officer, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a leader of the Iran-backed militias in Iraq, of which Kataib Hezbollah is a member.

Kataib Hezbollah been designated a “foreign terrorist organization” by the State Department since 2009.

Later on Wednesday, Syrian opposition activists and a war monitor reported an airstrike that targeted Iranian militia positions along the Iraq-Syria border.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported 10 airstrikes carried out by three unidentified aircraft that targeted pro-Iran militias in the Boukamal region in eastern Syria, near the border with Iraq. The Britain-based Observatory which monitors the Syria war through a network of activists on the ground said at least 10 explosions were heard in the region but said there was no immediate word on casualties.

READ MORE: Airstrike killing top Iranian general was a response to past attacks: White House memo

U.S. officials said the strike was not related to the Taji base strike at all. But, it was not immediately clear who conducted the attack.

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Syrian activist Omar Abu Layla said the unidentified airstrike targeted Iranian militia positions in the Boukamal region.

Syrian state-run media also reported an aerial attack in the Boukamal region near the Iraqi border that caused material damage.

—With files from the Associated Press

Troops survey damage from missile strike on U.S. airbase in Iraq
Troops survey damage from missile strike on U.S. airbase in Iraq