The sounds of rocket explosions sent people running for safe spaces in the US Embassy compound in Baghdad again late Wednesday night, and triggered air raid sirens as well. The Iranian-backed Kataib Hezbollah (PMU’s 45th Brigade) militia launched unguided rockets at the Green Zone. One of the rockets landed about 100 meters from the embassy.
— Babak Taghvaee (@BabakTaghvaee) January 9, 2020
The Iraqi Army said two Katyusha rockets exploded inside the Green Zone. “There were no casualties. We will provide details later,” the spokesperson wrote in a tweet.
The military Coalition confirms small rockets impacted near Baghdad’s International Zone, Jan. 8 at 11:45 p.m. (Baghdad Time). No Coalition casualties or damage to facilities. Follow @OIRSpox & @SecMedCell for updates. https://t.co/GTca3nOIsQ
— OIR Spokesman Col. Myles B. Caggins III (@OIRSpox) January 8, 2020
The heavily fortified Green Zone houses the diplomatic quarter in Baghdad, including foreign embassies and missions, as well as the Iraqi Parliament and other governmental buildings.
The rocket fire comes barely 24 hours after Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Aerospace Division fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two air bases where US service members are stationed. No American soldiers were injured or killed in the attacks, and no Iraqis were killed either.
In an address to the American people later in the day, President Donald Trump said “good preparation,” and a “great early warning system” was responsible for the low damage and lack of casualties.
Despite Iran’s claims it seeks no further escalation, the rocket fire in the Green Zone by its proxy militia makes it clear the conflict is far from over.
A NATO official who requested anonymity told USA Today that organization has temporarily suspended training of counter-ISIS forces in Iraq, and some of its military personnel were moved to new positions in and outside of the country.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg condemned Iran’s missile barrage on US forces. “NATO calls on Iran to refrain from further violence,” he said. “Allies continue to consult and remain committed to our training mission in Iraq.”