18:19 GMT27 January 2021
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    The US Embassy in Baghdad went on alert on Sunday after at least eight rockets rained down on the heavily-defended Green Zone district in the centre of the capital, injuring one Iraqi soldier and damaging multiple buildings and vehicles. No injuries or casualties were reported among Embassy staff or security personnel.

    Iran has condemned the recent attack on the US Embassy in Baghdad and considers its timing “suspicious”, Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh has announced.

    “Attacking diplomatic and residential premises is not acceptable, but the type of attack and its timing and the statement issued by the US Secretary of State show that the timing is very suspicious and they had already prepared a statement to publish,” Khatibzadeh said, speaking to reporters on Monday, his comments cited by Mehr News.

    On Sunday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused “Iran-backed militias” of responsibility for the Green Zone attack, and demanded that “these violent and corrupt criminals…cease their destabilising actions”.

    Earlier, Kata’ib Hezbollah – the Iran-affiliated, Iraqi-government allied Shia militia which joined the Popular Mobilisation Forces militia coalition to fight Daesh (ISIS)*, similarly condemned the Green Zone attack, with the group’s leader Qais al-Khazali saying that “the decision of the Iraqi Resistance Coordination Commission is not to target the US Embassy in the first place”.

    “It is our right to liberate our country and avenge our martyrs, but we specify the time to respond and it is not far away,” al-Khazali said.

    The militia group also issued a separate statement expressing its condemnation of the “indiscriminate attack against the US Embassy”, saying the attack posed “a threat to civilian lives”, and urging the US to “suspend the military activities in the area for the residents’ safety”.

    The Iraqi government called the incident a “terrorist act” which “endangers the security and lives of innocent citizens and their property”, and undermines the state’s sovereignty and prestige.

    Iraq Attack Déjà vu

    Sunday’s rocket attack on the Green Zone, a 10-square-kilometre heavily fortified area of central Baghdad which contains the US Embassy, is reminiscent of events following the 27 December 2019 twin rocket attacks on a US military base in Kirkuk, northern Iraq, which killed a civilian contractor. Washington blamed that attack on Kata’ib Hezbollah, and bombed five of the group’s bases across Iraq and Syria ‘in retaliation’ and prompting crowds of Iraqis to try to storm the US Embassy compound in Baghdad on New Year’s Eve.

    The US accused Iran’s Quds Force military unit of involvement in the attacks on US facilities, and on 3 January assassinated Quds Force Commander Qasem Soleimani, who President Trump accused of planning further embassy attacks, in a drone strike in Baghdad. The assassination prompted Iran to lob ballistic missiles at a pair of US military bases in Iraq, with over 100 US military personnel sustaining traumatic brain injuries. The crisis prompted the Iraqi parliament to issue a resolution demanding the immediate withdrawal of all US forces from Iraq.

    Iraqi militia groups agreed in October 2020 that they would suspend rocket attacks on US bases on condition that a timetable be presented for the withdrawal of American forces. Washington has been gradually scaling back the size of its troop contingent, with the Pentagon planning to scale back numbers to 2,500 troops total.


    * A terrorist group outlawed in Russia and many other countries.

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