At least eight Katyusha rockets hit the US embassy in Baghdad’s Green Zone Sunday night, according to several media outlets. Iraqi security sources claimed the rockets were intercepted by the embassy’s anti-missile defense systems.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a statement saying “the United States strongly condemns the latest attack by Iran-backed militias on the International Zone in Baghdad. While no Embassy personnel were harmed, the attack caused at least one Iraqi civilian casualty and damaged Iraqi civilian property. As Iraq struggles with Covid-19 and an increasingly dire economic crisis, Iran-backed militias are the most serious impediment to helping Iraq return to peace and prosperity. The same militias targeting diplomatic facilities are stealing Iraqi state resources on a massive scale, attacking peaceful protesters and activists, and engaging in sectarian violence.”
At least one Iraqi soldier was injured when a rocket hit the security checkpoint where he was standing, the Iraqi military reported. According to the same statement, the rockets hit the Qadisiya residential neighborhood near the US Embassy, damaging several buildings and cars.
The attack took place a few weeks ahead of the first anniversary of the killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani. In anticipation of a retaliation, the US withdrew some Baghdad embassy staff earlier in December. Sunday’s attack was the third violation of an October 2020 truce between Iraq, the US, and pro-Iranian militias operating inside Iraq.
Update: The Iraqi military says that an “outlaw group” fired rockets at #Baghdad‘s heavily fortified #GreenZone. The rockets hit a residential complex, damaging buildings and cars but causing no casualties.https://t.co/c8lOBB0iSW
— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) December 20, 2020
The US Embassy in Baghdad issued a statement saying “We call on all Iraqi political and governmental leaders to take steps to prevent such attacks and hold accountable those responsible. The US Embassy confirms rockets targeting the International Zone (Green Zone) resulted in the engagement of embassy defensive systems.”
“As we have said many times, these sorts of attacks on diplomatic facilities are a violation of international law and are a direct assault on the sovereignty of the Iraqi government. We call on all Iraqi political and governmental leaders to take steps to prevent such attacks and hold accountable those responsible,” the embassy added.
BREAKING : US Embassy in Baghdad #Iraq targeted with barrage of Katyusha Rockets and mortar shells.
Video shows some getting intercepted. It’s 9 pm in Baghdad now: pic.twitter.com/QjrN29Yp9m
— Joyce Karam (@Joyce_Karam) December 20, 2020
The Iraqi government issued a statement saying “targeting the Green Zone is a terrorist act that endangers the security and lives of innocent citizens and their property. It represents a targeting of the country’s sovereignty and national efforts to preserve the state’s prestige. Targeting diplomatic missions undermines Iraq’s international reputation and its foreign relations.”
Surprisingly, the Iraqi Shia paramilitary group Kataeb Hezbollah issued a statement criticizing the attack because “bombing the embassy of evil at this time is considered a breach of the order.”