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article imageA rocket hits US embassy dining hall in Baghdad

By Ken Hanly     Jan 26, 2020 in World
Baghdad - Three of five rockets that were fired into the huge Green Zone in Baghdad hit the US embassy on Sunday. One rocket is said to have crashed into the dining hall. No one has as yet claimed responsibility for the attack.
The attack
AFP reports on the attack: "Three rockets slammed into the US embassy in Iraq's capital on Sunday in the first direct hit reported after months of close calls, as thousands of protesters kept up anti-government sit-ins across the country.The attack marked a dangerous escalation in the spree of rocket attacks in recent months that have targeted the embassy or Iraqi military bases where American troops are deployed."
Although no one has claimed any of the attacks, the US blames pro-Iran militia however some of those groups are also part of the Iraqi government approved and financed Popular Mobilization Forces. As a recent article notes the attack appears to be part of a tit-for-tat exchange between the US Iran and Iraq-based militia that are pro-Iran: "A similar attack on a northern Iraqi base killed an American contractor, and the US retaliated with a strike on an Iran-backed faction known as Kataeb Hezbollah. Less than a week later, a US drone strike killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani outside the Baghdad airport -- prompting Iran to fire ballistic missiles at an Iraqi base where US troops are stationed. "
The Iraqi parliament voted some time ago that all foreign troops be withdrawn from Iraq by a 170 to 9 margin although a number of legislators did not attend. There have been a number of demonstrations demanding that US troops leave. The US are in Iraq mainly to fight ISIS but the jihadist group has been mostly defeated and is more or less in survival mode. It would seem that Iraqi forces alone could manage the ISIS threat.
Dining hall hit and at least one person wounded
The Former Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq Hoshyar Zebari blamed the attack on an unruly Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) militia: "“The Embassy restaurant or canteen was damaged and burned. This is a very dangerous game by #PMF uncontrolled factions to galvanize the tense situation. It must stop.” However, given the level of anger at the US it is likely that sporadic attacks will continue unless the US troops show they will leave. Iraq has asked for talks with the US to plan a withdrawal but so far the US has not offered to join such talks and appears to want to leave on its own terms if at all. Trump has even threatened Iraq with sanctions if it forces the US to leave.
There are conflicting reports of casualties but at least one member of the embassy staff is reported wounded. However, other reports claim that more were injured but provided no firm numbers. US officials claim that one rocket landed near the deputy ambassador's residence and noted that this was the first time in recent attacks that a rocket scored a direct hit on any part of the compound.
The Green Zone
Wikipedia describes
the Green or International Zone in Baghdad:
"The Green Zone (Arabic: المنطقة الخضراء‎, romanized: al-minṭaqah al-ḫaḍrā) is the most common name for the International Zone of Baghdad. It was a 10-square-kilometer (3.9 sq mi) area in the Karkh district of central Baghdad, Iraq, that was the governmental center of the Coalition Provisional Authority during the occupation of Iraq after the American-led 2003 invasion and remains the center of the international presence in the city. Its official name beginning under the Iraqi Interim Government was the International Zone, though Green Zone remains the most commonly used term"
Quite a few facilities in the Green Zone have been turned over to Iraqi authority but the zone remains heavily fortified. The Zone is still home to the US,UK, Australian and Egyptian embassies and is also a base for western military contractors. The huge U.S. embassy is located in the southern part of the "Green" Zone overlooking the Tigris River. The appended video reports on another recent attack on the embassy.
More about US embassy in Iraq, Green Zone baghdad, Iraq
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