Three rockets hit Baghdad’s Green Zone amid heightened tensions in Iraq

A security source told AFP at least three rockets landed near the US Embassy, while two others hit nearby residential neighborhoods.
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Damaged vehicle and building due to a rocket attack in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone. (Photo: Social Media)
Damaged vehicle and building due to a rocket attack in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone. (Photo: Social Media)

Three rockets hit Baghdad’s Green Zone amid heightened tensions in Iraq

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Three rockets hit Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone on Sunday evening, the Iraqi military said, causing light damage and no casualties in yet another attack to target the security zone in recent weeks.

 “An unlawful group” launched a “number of rockets” from the al-Rasheed camp area towards the Green Zone in Baghdad, Iraq’s Security Media Cell wrote on Twitter. The rockets fell on the Qadisiyah residential buildings causing damage to buildings and cars. There were reportedly no casualties.

A security source told AFP at least three rockets landed near the US diplomatic mission, while two others hit nearby residential neighborhoods.

Videos on social media showed the US embassy’s C-RAM defense system apparently destroying some rockets.

The AFP reported that it’s the third attack on US military and diplomatic installations since a truce in October largely put an end to a year of rocket attacks.

So far, no group has claimed the attack. Some Shia-led armed groups and leaders quickly condemned the attack. Groups widely believed to be affiliated with Tehran-backed militias have claimed responsibility for past episodes.

Iraq’s influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr on Twitter criticized the attack, suggesting it exposes civilians to danger.

“It is no one’s right to use weapons outside the framework of the state. The government must announce a state of emergency in Baghdad and seek help in the army exclusively to protect civilians and diplomatic delegations.”

He added that the Iraqi parliament must negotiate with the US embassy to end the “US occupation” and “intervention in Iraqi affairs.

The Iran-linked Kataib Hezbollah—which the US has accused of being among the perpetrators of rocket attacks against its presence in Iraq—also condemned the attack. The group claimed that targeting the “evil Embassy” at this time is “undisciplined behavior,” referring to the US mission in Iraq.

It also urged the federal government to arrest the perpetrators of the attack.

According to independent researcher Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi, the attack was carried out by “break-off” or “front” groups from one of the larger Iran-aligned factions such as Kataib Hezbollah.

“Front groups allow [militia groups such as Kataib Hezbollah] to claim plausible deniability. I would say it’s too hard for us to tell, actually, which one it is. It’s either of those two possibilities.”

There are fears there could be new violence by Iran-backed groups ahead of first anniversary of the 2019 US drone strike in Baghdad that killed Qassim Soleimani, head of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the head of Kataib Hizbollah.
On Saturday, the Iraqi parliament organized a ceremony to honor both military leaders, including a photo exhibition of the two men inside the parliament building.

Iran vowed to avenge Soleimani’s death, as well as the assassination of leading Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in Iran, late last month.

“Of course, revenge will be taken on those who ordered it & the murderers,” Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a tweet on 16 December.

Editing by Khrush Najari