Fresh rocket attack hits US embassy grounds in Baghdad; Iraqi PM condemns it
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Five Katyusha rockets landed in the US embassy compound grounds in the Iraqi capital Sunday evening, with parts of the compound reportedly damaged. No casualties were reported but sirens to take cover were reportedly heard at the site.
“Five Katyusha rockets hit the Green Zone without causing any casualties,” the Iraqi military communications center said in a statement. The Green Zone is a fortified area in the capital where diplomatic offices, as well as government buildings, are located.
At least one person was wounded in the US embassy, AFP reported citing an Iraqi official.
The Iraqi Commander in Chief, caretaker Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi, issued a separate statement shortly after, condemning the act of “aggression,” noting that the missiles fell “inside the US embassy compound.”
Kurdish politician and Iraq’s former foreign affairs and finance minister, Hoshyar Zebari, claimed in a tweet that “[t]he Embassy restaurant or canteen was damaged and burned” in the strike.
“This is a very dangerous game by #PMF uncontrolled factions to galvanize the tense situation,” he added, referring to the Iranian-backed Hashd al-Shaabi militias, also called the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF).
The attack comes just six days after three missiles struck near the embassy. Such rocket strikes have been semi-regular over the past few months amid ongoing tensions between the US and Iran along with its Iraqi proxies.
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On Jan. 9, two rockets landed in Iraq’s fortified Green Zone but caused no casualties. The Iraqi Army said the Katyusha rockets landed near the US embassy in Baghdad. Along with these, Iraqi bases housing American and coalition forces have been the target of similar attacks in recent months.
“We deplore the continuation of these condemned and outlaw acts that weaken the state and undermine its sovereignty and the sanctity of diplomatic missions on its soil,” Abdul Mahdi continued.
“We have commanded our forces to deploy, search, and investigate to prevent the recurrence of such attacks, and to arrest those who fired these rockets so that they can be punished in court.”
Such attacks are “damaging the country’s higher interests and its relations with its friends, which could turn Iraq into a war zone, especially at a time when the government started procedures to implement the decision of the House of Representatives to withdraw foreign forces from the country.”
Baghdad, the outgoing PM stated, affirms “it is committed to protecting all diplomatic missions and taking all necessary measures to achieve this in accordance with the law.”
On Jan. 7, Iran launched a barrage of ballistic missile strikes at airbases in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region in retaliation for the US killing of Iranian general Qasim Soleimani days earlier outside an airport in Baghdad.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany