Iraq

US confirms rocket hitting dining facility of its Baghdad embassy

At least one rocket has struck a dining facility at the US embassy compound in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, a US official has reportedly confirmed without pointing to possible casualties.

“We are aware of reports of rockets landing in the International Zone,” said a State Department spokesperson Sunday evening as cited by US-based news outlets, noting that the official did not specifically mention the American embassy but pointed to “reports of minor damage.”

A US official told CNN that one person was injured in the attack, but that the injury was minor and the individual had since returned to duty.

The security situation remains tense,” added the unidentified spokesperson, pointing to persisting “threat” by local armed groups.

The US is calling on the government of Iraq “to fulfill its obligations to protect our diplomatic facilities,” the official further underlined while noting that the department will not make further comment on the security situation in Baghdad.

It was the third such attack on the US embassy this month but was the first time the complex had been directly hit.

The US State Department says there have been more than 14 attacks on American personnel based in Iraq, accusing “Iranian government or militias backed by Tehran.” The fervently anti-Iran Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has become notorious for making false allegations to demonize Tehran and justify harsh US actions against it.

Meanwhile, earlier reports pointed to as many as five rockets targeting the US embassy in Baghdad’s heavily-fortified Green Zone, with other reports saying that three rockets had hit the compound directly.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.

This is while Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi has condemned the attack and ordered a probe into the incident amid growing demands across the nation for immediate withdrawal of thousands of US forces in the Arab country and the closure of their military bases throughout Iraq.

Abdul-Mahdi further announced that Baghdad was “committed to protecting all diplomatic missions and taking all necessary measures to achieve this.”

The American embassy in Baghdad — the world’s largest — lies within the fortified neighborhood, also known as the International Zone, which is surrounded by concrete walls.

The development came two days after nearly a million Iraqis took part in a huge march in the streets of Baghdad to demand immediate withdrawal of all US forces from the country. The massive rally came after influential cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called on Iraqis to stage “a million-strong, peaceful, unified demonstration to condemn the American presence and its violations.”

Also on Friday, a senior official of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) issued a statement warning the US president to voluntarily order the withdrawal of US troops from the country before being forced out.

“Today all Iraqis, men and women, have poured out onto the streets to send out one clear message to the whole world: There is no place for foreign forces to be present on the Iraqi soil. Thanks to all Iraqis who heeded the call to attend the demonstration and participated in it. Thanks to the support offered by politicians, tribal figures, academics as well as journalists,” Qais al-Khazali, leader of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, which is part of the PMU, said in the statement.

Nearly 5,200 US troops still remain in Iraq while the Iraqi parliament voted earlier this month to expel all American forces from the terror-ravaged country.

This is while US President Donald Trump has refused to discuss the troop withdrawal with Iraq’s acting Prime Minister Abdul Mahdi, threatening instead to illegally seize some $35 billion of Iraqi oil revenues held in a bank account in New York.

The January 3 US assassination of the Middle East’s most prominent anti-terror commander General Soleimani prompted tens of millions in Iraq, Iran, India, Pakistan and elsewhere to take to the streets and vent their anger at the hawkish US government.

Iranians also turned out in massive numbers, unmatched in its history, to honor the charismatic commander – revered for his reputation as the leading hunter of Daesh (ISIL) terrorists across the region — and demand what they described as “hard revenge.”

Iran’s military forces responded to American terror killing of Iranian and Iraqi officials by pounding two US military bases in Iraq with a volley of precision-guided missiles that sent ripples throughout the world.

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