Eight rockets target US Embassy in Baghdad

BAGHDAD (AP) — Eight rockets targetted the United States (US) Embassy in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone late Sunday, Iraq’s military and Iraqi officials said, sparking fears of renewed unrest as next month’s anniversary of the US slaying of an Iranian general draws near.

An Iraqi military statement said “an outlawed group” launched eight rockets targetting the Green Zone, injuring one Iraqi security person manning a checkpoint and causing material damage to a residential complex and some cars. The residential complex is usually empty.

The US Embassy’s C-RAM defence system, which is used to destroy missiles in mid-air, was activated to deflect the attack, the embassy said in a statement.

“The US Embassy confirms rockets targetting the International Zone (Green Zone) resulted in the engagement of embassy defensive systems,” the statement said. It said there was some minor damage to the embassy compound.

“We call on all Iraqi political and governmental leaders to take steps to prevent such attacks and hold accountable those responsible,” the statement said.

The US Embassy is seen from across the Tigris River in Baghdad, Iraq on January 3. PHOTO: AP

The thundering sound of the defence system could be heard by Associated Press reporters located on the other side of the Tigris River.

The C-RAM system was installed by the US over the summer as armed groups stepped up rocket attacks targetting the embassy and its premises.

The US withdrew some staff from its embassy in Baghdad earlier this month, temporarily reducing personnel ahead of the first anniversary of the US airstrike that killed Iran’s top general, Qassim Soleimani, outside Baghdad’s airport on January 3. American officials said the reduction stemmed from concerns about a possible retaliatory strike.

Soleimani’s killing sparked outrage and led Iraq’s Parliament to pass a non-binding resolution days later calling for the expulsion of all foreign troops from Iraq.

The frequency of rocket attacks in Iraq has frustrated the Trump administration. Iran-backed militia groups have been blamed for orchestrating the attacks.

In September, Washington warned Iraq that it will close its embassy in Baghdad if the government fails to take decisive action to end rocket and other attacks by Iranian-backed militias on American and allied interests in the country.