Iraq asks Iran to intervene to halt attacks on diplomatic missions

The Green Zone, which houses foreign embassies, has come under repeated rocket attacks

This file photo taken on October 11, 2007 shows in the forefront the US embassy complex in Baghdad and in the background, cranes towering over the construction site of the International High Tribunal (IHT) courthouse, in the heavily fortified Green Zone, on the west bank of the Tigris River in Baghdad. A volley of rockets exploded near the US embassy in Baghdad on December 20,2020, as tensions mount ahead of the anniversary of the US killing of top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani. / AFP / STR
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Iraq asked neighbouring Iran to intervene to stop the targeting of diplomatic missions in the Green Zone, Iraq's foreign minister said on Monday.

The embassies of several western countries, including the US, are in the Green Zone. It is considered a safe area in Baghdad, but has been the target of several rocket attacks in the past year.

“The government has taken several security and military measures since the attacks on the Green Zone began and by taking political steps to overcome these such as reaching out to Iran which occurred during my visit to Tehran,” Fuad Hussein said during an interview with Al Arabiya.

The Iraqi minister described the attacks as an “embarrassment” to the government.

Mr Hussein said that Iraqi forces had arrested several perpetrators who they suspected were linked to the attacks.

“We are working hard to stop these attacks from occurring,” he said.

Mr Hussein indicated that Washington may take drastic measures if its embassy is continuously targeted.

Baghdad accuses “outlaw groups” of launching the attacks but Washington blames Iranian-backed militias but no side has claimed responsibility.

“The government is working to place weapons under its control before elections this year,” he said, adding that the UN is working alongside the government to ensure its success.

Rockets have often been fired at the embassy to protest the presence of US troops in Iraq.

Tensions between Iran and the US increased during the last year following rocket attacks on Iraqi bases hosting American forces and US airstrikes against militia groups this year.

In early January 2020, a US strike killed a top Iranian general, Qassem Suliemani, and Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi Al Muhandis in Baghdad.

Mr Hussein said he rejected foreign interference in his country's internal affairs, stressing that the tension between Washington and Tehran has negatively impacted Iraq’s security.

Outgoing US President Donald Trump has vowed to reduce the number of US forces stationed in Iraq before leaving office.

This week the Pentagon said the drawdown of troops in Iraq has been completed. There are now 2,500 US service members in the country.

In response to the American strike that killed Suliemani the Iraqi Parliament voted to remove all foreign troops from the country.