Two rockets fired at Baghdad's fortified Green Zone

Several rocket and drone attacks have been launched on US interests in Iraq in recent months

One rocket fell close to the US embassy compound in the Iraqi capital's heavily fortified Green Zone. EPA
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Two rockets were fired at Baghdad's Green Zone early on Sunday, Iraq's security forces said, the first attack of its kind since a failed attempt to assassinate the prime minister on November 7.

“The Green Zone in Baghdad was the target of two Katyusha rockets,” authorities said, using the familiar term for Baghdad's heavily fortified International Zone, where key government offices and foreign embassies are located.

“The first was shot down in the air by C-RAM defence batteries, the second fell in a square, damaging two vehicles,” they added, referring to a defence system installed by the US Army to protect the embassy and a nearby small military base.

A security source told AFP that the rocket that was shot down fell near the US embassy, while the second came down roughly 500 metres away.

No one claimed responsibility for the attack.

Hours later, Iraqi security forces announced they had thwarted an attempt to attack a logistics convoy en route to a military base where US-led International Coalition troops are stationed.

Two roadside bombs were found on the road linking Baghdad to southern cities, a government statement said. One was dismantled and the other detonated by the security forces, it added.

Roadside bomb attacks in southern Iraq are usually carried out by Iran-backed Shiite extremists.

In recent months, dozens of rocket assaults or drone bomb attacks have been launched on US troops and interests in Iraq.

Iran-allied Shiite militias have stepped up their attacks against US forces since the US drone attack on January 3 last year that killed Qassem Suleimani, the commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force. Influential Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi Al Muhandis and several aides were also killed in the attack outside Baghdad airport.

Since then, the militias have vowed to retaliate and drive the US troops out.

It is rare for anyone to claim responsibility for the attacks but they are routinely blamed on pro-Iran factions in the country.

The latest rocket salvo comes after Iraq this week announced the end of the combat mission on its territory by the coalition led by Washington.

But roughly 2,500 US troops and 1,000 coalition soldiers will remain to train, advise and assist Iraqi forces.

Pro-Iran factions are calling for the departure of all US forces stationed in the country.

The attack also coincides with the 10th anniversary of the departure of US troops from Iraq, after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Washington later sent troops to the country to fight ISIS, which captured large parts of Iraqi territory in a lightning offensive.

At the beginning of November, Iraqi prime minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi escaped unharmed after an unclaimed drone bomb attack on his official residence in the Green Zone.

In September, a drone attack hit Erbil's international airport in Iraqi Kurdistan, where there is a base hosting coalition troops.

Updated: December 19, 2021, 10:15 AM