Rocket fired hits near US Embassy in Baghdad’s Green Zone

Vastavam web: A rocket was fired into the Iraqi capital’s heavily fortified Green Zone Sunday night, landing less than a mile from the sprawling US Embassy, an Iraqi military spokesman said. The apparent attack, which Iraq’s state-run news agency said did not cause any casualties, came amid heightened tensions across the Persian Gulf, after the White House ordered warships and bombers to the region earlier this month to counter an alleged, unexplained threat from Iran. The US also has ordered nonessential staff out of its diplomatic posts in Iraq.

It was the first such attack since September, when three mortar shells landed in an abandoned lot inside the Green Zone. There was no immediate comment from the State Department or the US Embassy in Iraq on Sunday’s attack.

No one claimed responsibility for the attack that took place after sunset when many Baghdad residents were indoors breaking their fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Associated Press reporters on the east side of the Tigris River, opposite the Green Zone, heard an explosion, after which alert sirens sounded briefly in Baghdad.

Iraqi military spokesman Brig Gen Yahya Rasoul told The Associated Press that a Katyusha rocket fell near the statue of the Unknown Soldier, less than a mile from the US Embassy. He said the military is investigating the cause but that the rocket was believed to have been fired from east Baghdad. The area is home to Iran-backed Shiite militias.

Shortly afterward the rocket launcher was discovered by security forces in the eastern neighbourhood of Wihda, according to a security official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. The official also said the roads leading to the Green Zone were closed briefly for security reasons before they were reopened as normal.