BAGHDAD, Iraq — Two rockets crashed late Wednesday into the Iraqi capital’s Green Zone, the high-security enclave where foreign embassies including the US mission are based, security sources told AFP, as tensions between the US and Iran remained high.
Just before midnight, AFP correspondents in Baghdad heard two loud blasts followed by the wailing security sirens of the Green Zone.
The attack pointed to lingering hostilities even as Washington and Tehran appeared to step back from a direct confrontation following a US drone strike that killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis last week.
On Tuesday night, Tehran launched ballistic missiles at Iraqi bases housing American and other coalition forces, which did not cause casualties.
BREAKING: Rocket fire into Baghdad’s Green Zone pic.twitter.com/HaPcDaF22Z
— Trey Yingst (@TreyYingst) January 8, 2020
Muhandis had been the deputy head of the Popular Mobilization Force (PMF), a web of armed groups incorporated into the Iraqi state but which also have close ties to Tehran.
The United States had accused PMF groups of being behind a string of rocket attacks on the US embassy in Baghdad and bases hosting American troops across the country.
On Wednesday, the PMF’s hardline factions vowed they, too, would take revenge for the US raid.
Paramilitary chief Qais al-Khazali — blacklisted as a terrorist by the US — said Iraq’s response to the US “will be no less than the size of the Iranian response.”
Harakat al-Nujaba, a hardline PMF faction, vowed to avenge Muhandis.
“To American soldiers: Do not close your eyes. Revenge for the martyr Muhandis is coming at the hands of Iraqis — until the last soldier among you leaves,” it said.