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After surviving drone assassination attempt, Iraq PM urges ‘calm and restraint’

‘I’m doing fine,’ says premier following armed UAV attack on his residence in the Green Zone; US condemns ‘apparent act of terrorism’

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi speaks during a joint press conference with the French President at the Prime Minister's office in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, August 28, 2021. (Eliot BLONDET / POOL / AFP)
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi speaks during a joint press conference with the French President at the Prime Minister's office in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, August 28, 2021. (Eliot BLONDET / POOL / AFP)

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi said he was unhurt and appealed for “calm and restraint” after a drone attack on his residence in Baghdad’s Green Zone early Sunday as political tensions mount in the country.

The attack was a major escalation amid tensions sparked by the refusal of Iran-backed militias to accept last month’s parliamentary election results.

Two Iraqi officials told The Associated Press that seven of al-Kadhimi’s security guards were injured in the attack with two armed drones which occurred in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone area. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to give official statements.

“I’m doing fine, praise be to God, and I call for calm and restraint on the part of everyone for the good of Iraq,” al-Kadhimi wrote on Twitter, after what his office called a “failed assassination attempt.”

He later appeared on Iraqi television, seated behind a desk in a white shirt, looking calm and composed. “Cowardly rocket and drone attacks don’t build homelands and don’t build a future,” he said.

Two security sources earlier confirmed the attack in the heavily-guarded Green Zone, which also hosts the US embassy and is frequently targeted by rocket attacks.

This photo provided by the Iraqi Prime Minister’s Media Office shows the aftermath of an assassination attempt at the home of Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi in the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad, Iraq, Nov. 7, 2021 (Iraqi Prime Minister Media Office, via AP)

The United States condemned the attack as “an apparent act of terrorism.”

“We are relieved to learn the prime minister was unharmed. This apparent act of terrorism, which we strongly condemn, was directed at the heart of the Iraqi state,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

“We are in close touch with the Iraqi security forces charged with upholding Iraq’s sovereignty and independence and have offered our assistance as they investigate this attack,” he added.

Al-Kadhimi, 54, was Iraq’s former intelligence chief before becoming prime minister in May last year. He is considered by the militias to be close to the US, and has tried to balance between Iraq’s alliances with both the US and Iran. Prior to the elections, he has hosted several rounds of talks between regional foes Iran and Saudi Arabia in Baghdad in a bid to ease regional tensions.

This photo released by the Iraqi Prime Minister Media Office shows the damage of the drone attack at the home of Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi at the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad, Iraq, Nov. 7, 2021 (Iraqi Prime Minister Media Office via AP)

A large number of security forces were deployed in and around the Zone following the attack, according to a security source.

The attack came amid soaring political tensions over the results of October 10 elections.

Preliminary results of that poll saw the Conquest (Fatah) Alliance, the political arm of the pro-Iran multi-party Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary network, suffer a substantial decline in its parliamentary seats. The group’s supporters have denounced the outcome as “fraud.”

Hundreds of Hashed supporters clashed with police on Friday while protesting near the Green Zone to vent their fury over the election result.

One protester died of their injuries in hospital, according to a security source, while a Hashed source said two demonstrators were killed.

The health ministry reported 125 injuries, most of them from the security forces.

Several hundred supporters of pro-Iranian groups returned to the Green Zone on Saturday to protest.

Some burned a portrait of the prime minister, whom they called a “criminal.”

According to preliminary tallies, the Conquest won around 15 of the 329 seats in parliament last month, down from 48 it held previously, which made it the second-largest bloc.

The big winner this time, with more than 70 seats according to the initial count, was the movement of Moqtada Sadr, a Shiite Muslim preacher who campaigned as a nationalist and critic of Iran.

Final election results are expected within weeks.

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