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3 rockets fired toward US embassy in Iraq

Iraqi officials says diplomatic mission’s C-RAM defense system downed the rockets midair; incident comes ahead of anniversary of targeted killing in Baghdad of Iran’s Soleimani

Iraqi counterterrorism forces stand guard in front of the US embassy in the capital Baghdad, on January 2, 2020 (Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP)
Iraqi counterterrorism forces stand guard in front of the US embassy in the capital Baghdad, on January 2, 2020 (Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP)

BAGHDAD (AP) — At least three rockets targeted the US embassy in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone on Sunday, Iraqi security officials said, sparking fears of renewed unrest, as next month’s anniversary of the slaying of an Iranian general draws near.

The embassy’s C-RAM defense system was used to destroy the rockets mid-air, three Iraqi security officials said, with damage caused to property and parked cars. It was not immediately clear if there were any casualties. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

The C-RAM system was installed by the US over the summer as armed groups stepped up rocket attacks targeting the embassy and its premises.

The US withdrew some staff from its embassy in Baghdad earlier this month, temporarily reducing personnel ahead of the first anniversary of the Washington-directed killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, outside Baghdad’s airport on January 3. US officials said the decision stemmed from concerns about a possible retaliatory strike.

Soleimani’s killing sparked outrage and led Iraq’s parliament to pass a non-binding resolution days later, calling for the expulsion of all foreign troops from Iraq. Soleimani headed the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, designated by the US as a terrorist organization.

The frequency of rocket attacks has frustrated the Trump administration. Iran-backed militia groups have been blamed for orchestrating the attacks.

In September, Washington warned Iraq that it will close its embassy in Baghdad if the government fails to take decisive action to end rocket and other attacks by Iranian-backed militias on American and allied interests in the country.

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