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Friday, February 16, 2024

US embassy in Iraq under rocket attacks

Although no group claimed responsibility at the time of reporting, early indications pointed to Iran-aligned militias.

US embassy in Iraq under rocket attacks

The United States embassy in Baghdad was targeted by rocket fire, with explosions heard near the heavily fortified Green Zone early on Friday. This area houses the embassy. Reports, citing unnamed U.S. and Iraqi military officials, stated that rockets landed on the outskirts of the district containing government and diplomatic buildings at dawn.

According to an Iraqi security official, 14 Katyusha rockets were fired, some hitting near the embassy’s gates, while others fell into the nearby Tigris river. The attack caused material damage, but there were no reported casualties. Sirens prompting people to “duck and cover” were activated. 

In response, the U.S. embassy stated that “two salvoes of rockets” were fired at the compound at 4:15 am. A spokesperson suggested that Iran-aligned militias likely initiated the attacks and called on the Iraqi government to protect diplomatic and coalition partner personnel and facilities. The U.S. emphasized its right to self-defenses and protection of personnel worldwide.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani condemned the attack as an “act of terrorism” and urged security forces to pursue those responsible. Groups in Iraq supporting Palestinians have vowed retaliation against Israel and the U.S. for the conflict in Gaza.

Background to the attacks

The Pentagon reported that since the Gaza war began on October 7, U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria have faced 66 attacks, causing injuries to over 60 personnel. Notably, diplomatic missions had been spared until this incident. The U.S. military official confirmed a multi-rocket attack but noted no casualties or infrastructure damage.

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Although no group claimed responsibility at the time of reporting, early indications pointed to Iran-aligned militias. The U.S. has previously accused Iran of facilitating rocket and drone attacks by proxy groups. In response to attacks on American troops, the U.S. has conducted airstrikes in Syria and Iraq, targeting sites associated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and militias.