Iraq will not let 'outlaws' threaten stability, Prime Minister says

Mustafa Al Kadhimi vowed to uphold Iraq's dignity following rocket attacks on Baghdad

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi wears a protective face mask, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), as he stands at the prime minister's office in Baghdad, Iraq June 4, 2020.  Iraqi Prime Minister Media Office/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
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Iraq will not allow “outlaws” to threaten security and stability, Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi said on Thursday, following several rocket attacks on the capital.

“The rockets that targeted an area near the Unknown Soldier Monument in Baghdad threaten our stability and our future,” Mr Al Kadhimi said in a statement.

Rockets hit Baghdad's Green Zone, home to the US embassy, early on Thursday – the fifth such attack in 10 days.

Like previous attacks, there was no claim of responsibility.

“I will not allow outlaws to hold Iraq hostage in order to cause chaos and find pretexts to perpetuate their interests,” he said.

There were at least three explosions, followed by the sound of sirens in the Green Zone.

There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage.

The prime minister said his government will “protect the Iraqi people, and uphold the dignity of the homeland and of our citizens.”

Mr Al Kadhimi, who is newly appointed, faces an array of challenges. The most immediate problems are the coronavirus pandemic and the collapse in oil revenues.

It was the second rocket attack near the US embassy since June 8. Other attacks have targeted Baghdad airport, where US troops are stationed, and a base north of the capital.

Washington has placed responsibility on Iran-backed Iraqi militias.

The attack came just days after Washington and Baghdad launched strategic talks in which the US pledged to reduce the size of its forces in Iraq and confirmed that it does not seek a permanent military presence in the country.

The US-led coalition fighting ISIS has withdrawn from several bases across Iraq in recent months in a planned drawdown.

US Assistant Secretary of State David Schenker, in comments to reporters in Washington following the session, said Iraq had committed to “moving ahead and undertaking their obligations,” with regards to militia attacks targeting the American presence.

Tension heightened between the US and Iran after an American drone strike killed Iranian military leader Qassem Suleimani in January near Baghdad International Airport.

The incident resulted in Iran-backed attacks on American troops stationed in Iraq. The threat of further attacks led the US to pull troops out of three Iraqi bases in March.

Following the attacks, Iraqi members of Parliament passed a non-binding resolution in January to remove foreign forces from the country.