US condemns rocket attack in Baghdad
WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan 24) – On Tuesday, the US State Department condemned Monday’s Katyusha rocket attack in Baghdad that killed five Iraqis and wounded two others. The attack targeted the Baghdad International Airport, but the rocket, instead, hit a nearby house, causing the civilian deaths and injuries.
The attack came, as the US has threatened to close its embassy in Baghdad, if the Iraqi government does not act more decisively to end the assaults carried out by pro-Iranian militias against US and Counter-ISIS Coalition members.
The US warnings, issued twice over the past week by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in conversations with senior Iraqi officials, have roiled Baghdad, because it is just something that the Trump administration might do.
In a written statement on Tuesday, State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus expressed US anger at Monday’s attack.
“We are outraged by yesterday’s rocket attack in Baghdad that killed five civilians, including a mother and her children,” she said.
Ortagus did not repeat the earlier warnings about closing the US embassy, but she called “on Iraqi officials to take immediate action to hold the perpetrators accountable.”
Already on Monday, after the rocket attack, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi ordered the security services to “intensify their intelligence efforts to curb these crimes that terrify citizens” and conduct “an immediate investigation into the incident” in order to prosecute the perpetrators, “regardless of their affiliations, to receive the most severe penalties,” according to an official Iraqi statement.
On Tuesday, Ahmed Mulla Talal, a spokesman for Kadhimi, announced in a press conference that a number of individuals had been arrested for the attack. He also said that 19 members of the security forces had been detained, while a number of rocket launchers in Baghdad had been seized.
Talal also warned that "any withdrawal or closure of any diplomatic mission of any country could have disastrous consequences for the entire region.”
Talal cited Kadhimi as saying, "Iraq rejects being an arena of the US-Iran conflict, and it is an independent, non-occupied country.” The position of the pro-Iranian militias, which they use to justify their attacks, is that the US is an occupying power in Iraq.
However, as Talal stated, “Kadhimi reminds everyone that the US-led coalition forces are in Iraq at the request of the former governments”—all three led by figures associated with Shi’ite Islamic parties.
They include Nuri al-Maliki and his successor, Haider al-Abadi, both of the Islamic Dawa Party, who held office from 2006 until 2018. They were succeeded by Adel Abdul Mahdi of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, who resigned in the face of popular protests against government corruption and its failure to provide basic services—which began exactly a year ago on Thursday.
Ortagus stressed that “lawless Iran-backed militias” represent “an unacceptable danger to everyone in Iraq, from diplomatic officials and facilities to Iraqi activitists and families” and remain “the single biggest deterrent to stability in Iraq.”
Indeed, on Tuesday, an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) hit a Coalition convoy in southern Iraq, near al-Hillah. It caused no casualties, however.
Editing by John J. Catherine