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Friday, February 16, 2024

US embassy in Baghdad fell victim to two rockets on Friday

The attack, occurring at approximately 4 a.m., rattled the diplomatic enclave in the heart of Iraq's capital.

The US embassy in Baghdad fell victim to two salvos of rockets on a Friday morning, marking the first reported rocket attack since mid-October. While there were no reported casualties, tensions in the region have heightened as the attack is believed to be the work of Iran-aligned militias in Iraq. 

Rocket Attack

The attack, occurring at approximately 4 a.m., rattled the diplomatic enclave in the heart of Iraq’s capital. Social media videos captured the eerie echoes of explosions near the embassy, triggering sirens urging residents to seek cover. The embassy, a symbol of American presence in the region, had not experienced such an assault since the initiation of attacks by Iran-aligned Shia Muslim militias in mid-October.

Read More: Three people executed for vehicle bombing in Baghdad

Potential Culprits and Motives

As of now, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack. However, suspicion points towards Iran-aligned militias operating within Iraq. These groups, united under the banner of the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, have been responsible for over 70 attacks against US forces in the region. Their motivation is believed to be linked to Washington’s support for Israel during the recent conflict in Gaza, a factor that has fueled anti-American sentiments among these factions.

Diplomatic Consequences

The assault on the US embassy introduces an additional layer of intricacy to the already tense relations between the United States and Iran. Despite the Islamic Republic consistently disavowing any participation in attacks against US interests, the sway of Iranian-backed militias in Iraq presents a significant obstacle to diplomatic stability. The lack of immediate claims of responsibility further complicates the situation, fostering speculation regarding the motives behind the assault.

Calls for Iraqi Government Action

Following the incident, the spokesperson for the US embassy emphasised the need for the Iraqi government to take prompt and decisive measures to ensure the safety of diplomatic and coalition partner personnel as well as facilities. Given the array of challenges confronting the Iraqi government, there is mounting pressure on them to address and mitigate the activities of Iran-aligned militias operating within the country’s borders. The failure to address this issue could potentially lead to extensive consequences for Iraq’s stability and its standing within the international community.

Larger Context

The rocket attack occurs at a pivotal juncture, coinciding with the presence of around 2,500 US troops in Iraq. These troops are actively engaged in supporting local forces to counteract the resurgence of the Islamic State. The prevailing instability in the region prompts inquiries into the efficacy of the US mission and raises concerns about the possibility of heightened tensions. The looming prospect of military intervention remains significant as the United States restates its prerogative for self-defence and the protection of personnel on a global scale.

Read More: Iran condemns rocket attack on Baghdad airport

As the investigation into the rocket attack on the US embassy in Baghdad unfolds, the incident underscores the fragile nature of diplomatic relations in the Middle East. The involvement of Iran-aligned militias, the lack of immediate claims, and the potential for further unrest raise concerns about the broader implications for regional stability. The international community watches closely as the Iraqi government grapples with the challenge of reining in these militias to prevent further escalation and secure the safety of diplomatic missions in the region.