US embassy in Baghdad hit by rockets, no casualties

BAGHDAD, Dec 8 (Reuters) – Two rockets hit the U.S. embassy in Baghdad on Friday morning, but there were no casualties, an embassy spokesman said.

The spokesman said the attack was believed to have been carried out by Iran-aligned militants in Iraq. No group immediately claimed responsibility.

It was the first rocket attack against the embassy since an umbrella group of Shiite Muslim militias aligned with Iran launched attacks against US forces in mid-October on military bases in Iraq and neighboring Syria.

Armed groups operating under the banner of anti-Islamism in Iraq have linked more than 70 such attacks to Washington’s support for Israel’s disastrous assault on Gaza.

“As we have done on many occasions, we again call on the Iraqi government to do everything in its power to protect diplomatic and coalition partners and facilities,” an embassy spokesman said.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammad Shia al-Sudani ordered security agencies to pursue the perpetrators, describing them as “unruly, lawless groups that in no way represent the will of the Iraqi people.”

He added that acts of terrorism undermine Iraq’s stability, reputation and target places Iraq has pledged to protect.

An explosion was heard near the embassy in the center of the Iraqi capital around 4am on Friday. According to social media videos from the scene, sirens were activated, calling people to take cover.

In addition to its diplomatic staff in Iraq, the U.S. says it has about 2,500 troops in the country aimed at advising and assisting local forces trying to stem the resurgence of Islamic State, which seized large swaths of both countries in 2014. Defeated.

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“We reiterate that we reserve the right to defend ourselves and protect our personnel anywhere in the world,” the spokesman said.

The attack was blamed on the UN in Iraq. “Iraq cannot allow itself to be drawn into a wider conflict, which would threaten its hard-won stability and achievements so far,” it said in a social media post.

Report by Taimur Azhari; Editing by Gerry Doyle and Angus MacSwan

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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