Iraqi army: 8 rockets target US Embassy in Baghdad
BAGDAD (AP) - Eight missiles targeted the U.S. embassy in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone late Sunday, announced Iraqi military and Iraqi officials and sparked fears of renewed unrest as next month marks the anniversary of the assassination of an Iranian general approached by the USA.
An Iraqi military statement said a "banned group" fired eight missiles at the Green Zone, injured an Iraqi security person at a checkpoint and caused material damage to a residential complex and some cars. The residential complex is usually empty.
The U.S. embassy’s C-RAM defense system, which is used to destroy missiles in the air, has been activated to deflect the attack, the embassy said in a statement.
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"The US Embassy confirms that missiles targeting the International Zone (Green Zone) have triggered the deployment of the embassy's defense systems," the statement said. It was said that the embassy premises had been slightly damaged.
"We call on all Iraqi political and state leaders to take steps to prevent such attacks and hold those responsible to account," the statement said.
The thunderous sound of the defense system could be heard by Associated Press reporters on the other side of the Tigris.
The US installed the C-RAM system in the summer when armed groups intensified rocket attacks on the embassy and its premises.
The US withdrew some staff from its embassy in Baghdad earlier this month and temporarily cut staff ahead of the first anniversary of the US air strike that killed Iranian General Qassim Soleimani outside Baghdad airport on January 3. American officials said the reduction was due to concerns about a possible retaliatory strike.
Soleimani's murder sparked outrage and prompted the Iraqi parliament days later to pass a non-binding resolution calling for the expulsion of all foreign troops from Iraq.
The frequency of missile strikes in Iraq has frustrated the Trump administration. Iran-backed militia groups were accused of orchestrating the attacks.
In September, Washington warned Iraq that it would close its embassy in Baghdad if the government fails to take decisive action to end missile and other attacks by Iranian-backed militias on American and allied interests in the country.
The partial withdrawal from the embassy came in the wake of a withdrawal of American troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, which the outgoing Trump administration announced last month. In Iraq, the US plans to reduce the number of troops from 3,000 to 2,500 by mid-January before Trump leaves office.
Associate press writer Murtada Faraj contributed to this report.
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