Iraqi PM places security forces under investigation over US embassy attack

Several rockets landed in and around the US embassy in Baghdad on Friday without causing casualties

The US Embassy compound in Baghdad's high-security Green Zone, as seen from across the Tigris River. AP
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Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al Sudani has ordered an investigation into the security forces responsible for an area where an attack on the US embassy was launched.

Several rockets were fired at dawn on Friday towards the Green Zone in Baghdad where the US embassy is located. Some rockets landed in the embassy compound while several others hit the headquarters of the National Security Service, according to Iraqi security officials. The attacks caused no casualties, they said.

The rocket launcher used was found on Abu Nawas Street, across the Tigris River from the Green Zone.

“The officers and service members in that sector have been referred to specialised investigative committees to hold the negligent accountable,” Maj Gen Yahya Rasool, the military representative for the Prime Minister, said.

“It was decided to replace the presidential regiment with a regiment from the special unit to secure,” he said.

It was the first attack directed at the heavily fortified area which is home to government offices and embassies, since Iran-backed Iraqi militias resumed attacks on US troops following the start of the Israel-Gaza war on October 7.

Mr Al Sudani denounced the attack as “acts of terrorism” and vowed to apprehend those responsible.

“Targeting diplomatic missions is unjustifiable and unacceptable under any circumstances, regardless of the claims and illusions behind these reprehensible actions,” he said.

“The perpetrators of these attacks harm Iraq, its stability and security.”

No group claimed responsibility, but previous attacks against US forces have been carried out by Iran-aligned militias operating under the banner of the Islamic Resistance in Iraq.

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, in a call with Mr Al Sudani, accused Iran-aligned armed groups Kataib Hezbollah and Harakat Hezbollah Al Nujaba of carrying out the attacks.

“The United States reserves the right to respond decisively against those groups,” Mr Austin said, according to a Pentagon statement summarising the call.

A US military official told Reuters that seven mortar rounds landed in the embassy compound.

US forces, based in Iraq and Syria as part of the global anti-ISIS coalition, have been attacked at least 84 times since October 17, the official said.

The US has responded with a series of strikes that have killed at least 15 militants in Iraq and about seven in Syria.

The head of the Kataeb Sayyid Al Shuhada militia, one of the main Iraqi factions that has been targeting US forces in the region, said that he rejected “stopping or easing operations” while “Zionist crimes continue in Gaza”.

Abu Ali al-Askari, a senior official in Kataib Hezbollah, also vowed to continue attacks against US assets in Iraq and Syria.

The US has 2,500 troops in Iraq and 900 in neighbouring Syria to advise and assist local forces trying to prevent a resurgence of ISIS, which in 2014 seized vast areas of both countries but was later defeated.

Updated: December 10, 2023, 8:19 AM