Three rockets strike US embassy in protest-hit Iraqi capital Baghdad
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 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. At least one person was wounded, a senior Iraqi official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
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The US embassy did not respond to requests for comment and it was not immediately clear whether the injured person was an American national or an Iraqi staff member working at the mission. Later, the US called on Iraq to protect American diplomatic facilities. “We call on the Government of Iraq to fulfill its obligations to protect our diplomatic facilities,” a State Department spokesperson said in a statement.
“Since September there have been over 14 attacks by Iran and Iranian-supported militias on US personnel in Iraq,” the State Department spokesperson said.
None of the attacks has been claimed but Washington has repeatedly blamed Iran-backed military factions in Iraq.
A US official told CNN on Sunday that one rocket hit a dining facility on the embassy compound. Neither the Pentagon nor the State Department had made public any reports of injuries and had not returned requests from CNN for comment on the incident.
Kurdish politician and Iraq’s former foreign affairs and finance minister, Hoshyar Zebari, said in a tweet that the “Embassy restaurant or canteen was damaged and burned” in the strike, according to Kurdistan 24.
“This is a very dangerous game by #PMF uncontrolled factions to galvanize the tense situation,” he added, referring to the Iranian-backed Hashd al-Shaabi militias, also called the Popular Mobilisation Forces.
The attack took place earlier in the day than usual, with AFP reporters hearing the booms on the western bank of the Tigris River at precisely 7:30pm local time (1630 GMT).
Iraqi caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi and Speaker of Parliament Mohammed Halbousi both condemned the incident, saying it risked dragging their homeland into war.
Iraq has already been dragged into a worrying tit-for-tat between the United States and Iran over the last month.