On Tuesday, the heavily fortified Green Zone in Iraq, which houses foreign embassies including the American, was hit with four rockets according to the Iraqi military. This signals an apparent end to the pledge by Iran-backed militias to halt attacks targeting American troops in the country.
The rocket attack came less than an hour after the U.S. had announced plans to reduce its troop levels in Iraq from 3,000 to 2,500. The Green Zone is frequently the target of rocket attacks.
In a statement, the Iraqi military said that the rockets were launched from a neighborhood in the al-Alf Dar district in New Baghdad. Four rockets landed in the Green Zone and three outside it. Iraqi officials reported that one child was killed and four civilians were wounded.
When the alarms were sounded U.S. personnel moved into shelters. Initial reports suggest that no U.S. personnel were injured and no damage to the American Embassy was done.
Following the attack, the Iraqi military posted pictures of the rocket launcher outfitted on the back of a pickup truck, burned by the attackers after launching. Thus far, no one has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Media reports said that there were several large blasts, followed by rapid-fire sounds and red flares lighting up the sky. This indicates that the U.S. embassy’s C-RAM rocket defense system was deployed.
IRAQ: C-RAM based near US embassy in Baghdad active tonight after 3 rockets were reportedly fired towards the Green Zone. pic.twitter.com/2KaovZFZ33
— Conflict News (@Conflicts) November 17, 2020
About a month ago, Iran-backed proxy militia groups had announced they would temporarily halt attacks targeting Americans and American interests in Iraq, including the American embassy, on the condition that the U.S.-led coalition troops would withdraw from the country. The rocket attack could indicate that the Iranian-led militias were not pleased with the reduced U.S. troop numbers announced by the Trump administration and want all personnel to withdraw.
Kataib Hezbollah has been the main Iran-backed group of the many that have launched dozens of attacks on American interests and the American-led coalition against ISIS in Iraq.
The U.S. finally responded in early January and launched airstrikes against the group. This resulted in Iranian-led militias attacking the American Embassy in Baghdad under orders from the Iran Quds Forces commanded by MG Qassem Soleimani.
In response, the Trump administration took out Soleimani and the Iraqi deputy militia head, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, in a drone strike, soon after Soleimani’s aircraft landed at the Baghdad International Airport.
The U.S. still has 3,000 troops stationed across Iraq. They are part of the U.S.-led coalition that has been fighting ISIS since 2014.
The U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003 to rid the country of Saddam Hussein. It had begun to withdraw its troops until the ISIS surge brought them back.