ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraq’s military confirmed on Sunday that a rocket was fired into the capital’s fortified Green Zone where several foreign diplomatic offices, including the US embassy, are located.
“A Katyusha rocket fell in the middle of the Green Zone without causing any losses,” a statement from the Iraqi military said, adding it would provide further details later.
Although less accurate than conventional weaponry, the Katyusha multiple rocket launcher is capable of delivering explosives to a target quicker.
Witnesses in the area reported sounds of blasts in central Baghdad, with some suggesting they were heard near the United States embassy, Reuters reported.
Iraqi police later confirmed to Reuters that the US embassy was not struck by the rocket, adding that a search for the suspects and rocket launcher is ongoing.
Meanwhile, a police source told AFP that according to initial investigations, the rocket was “fired from an open field” in the southern part of the Iraqi capital.
The incident comes as the US State Department on Wednesday ordered the departure of non-emergency US government employees from its embassy in Baghdad and consulate-general in the Kurdistan Region’s Erbil, as well as the suspension of normal visa services.
A week ago, the White House announced it was dispatching an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the region in response to intelligence that Iran was planning an attack against US targets or US allies.
Other nations, including the United Kingdom, Germany, and the Netherlands also responded to the US-Iran standoff.
Britain raised the threat level for its forces in Iraq due to “a range of threats to UK and coalition forces” related to “Iran’s destabilizing behavior in the region.”
The German and Dutch Defense Ministries said they had temporarily paused their training missions in Iraq, which also includes troops that train Kurdish Peshmerga forces in the autonomous Kurdish region.
A spokesperson for the US-led Coalition, however, told Kurdistan 24 the training mission throughout Iraq would continue, despite increased tensions between Washington and Tehran.