The US embassy in Baghdad, as well as the 5,200 American troops stationed across the country, have faced a spate of rocket attacks in recent months. (Photo Credit: Twitter)
At least three rockets hit near the US embassy in the Iraqi capital’s high-security Green Zone, security sources told AFP, with no immediate reports of casualties. Sirens could be heard across the zone immediately after the rockets made impact. The US has blamed Iran-backed paramilitary groups for a spate of similar attacks in recent months on the Green Zone, but there has never been a claim of responsibility. The Green Zone is the common name for the International Zone of Baghdad. It is home to government offices and foreign embassies of many countries, including America.
It is a 10-square-kilometer (3.9 sq mi) area in the Karkh district of central Baghdad. It was the governmental center of the Coalition Provisional Authority during the occupation of Iraq after the American-led 2003 invasion and remains the center of the international presence in the city.
At least two rockets hit near the US embassy in Baghdad https://t.co/pwEkXMKTPv— Achilles (@AchillesofHomer) January 21, 2020
The US embassy in Baghdad as well as the 5,200 American troops stationed across the country have faced a spate of rocket attacks in recent months that Washington has blamed on Iran and its allies in Iraq. One attack last month killed a US contractor working in northern Iraq, prompting retaliatory American air strikes that killed 25 hardline fighters close to Iran.
The attack comes days after rockets crashed into the Iraqi capital's Green Zone on January 8. This followed nearly 24 hours after Tehran launched ballistic missiles at Iraqi bases housing American and other coalition forces in retaliation for the US killing top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani.
Qasem Soleimani, the popular head of the Revolutionary Guards' foreign operations arm, was killed in a US drone strike outside Baghdad airport on Friday, ratcheting up tensions between the arch-foes.
Soleimani was one of the most popular figures in Iran and seen as a deadly adversary by America and its allies. General Soleimani, who headed the external operations Quds Force for the Guards, had wielded his regional clout publicly since 2018 when it was revealed that he had direct involvement in top-level talks over the formation of Iraq's government. It was no surprise at the time for a man who has been at the centre of power-broking in the region for two decades.
Soleimani has been in and out of Baghdad ever since, most recently last month as parties sought to form a new government. Where once he kept to the shadows, Soleimani has in recent years become an unlikely celebrity in Iran -- replete with a huge following on Instagram.
His profile rose suddenly when he was pushed forward as the public face of Iran's intervention in the Syrian conflict from 2013, appearing in battlefield photos, documentaries -- and even being featured in a music video and animated film. In a rare interview aired on Iranian state television in October, he said he was in Lebanon during the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war to oversee the conflict.
To his fans and enemies alike, Soleimani was the key architect of Iran's regional influence, leading the fight against jihadist forces and extending Iran's diplomatic heft in Iraq, Syria and beyond. "To Middle Eastern Shiites, he is James Bond, Erwin Rommel and Lady Gaga rolled into one," wrote former CIA analyst Kenneth Pollack in a profile for Time's 100 most influential people in 2017.