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Iraq: Missile attack on Baghdad's Green Zone

One of the entrances to Baghdad's fortified Green Zone on 24 November 2018 [AHMAD AL-RUBAYE//AFP/Getty]
One of the entrances to Baghdad's fortified Green Zone on 24 November 2018 [AHMAD AL-RUBAYE//AFP/Getty]

On Thursday at dawn two Katyusha rockets landed in the heavily fortified Green Zone in the centre of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, where the US embassy is located, according to an official security media office statement.

A security source announced that the missiles targeted the US embassy, ​​but landed hundreds of metres away in an empty square.

No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks. However, Washington pointed the finger of suspicion at the Hezbollah Brigades, affiliated with the pro-Iran Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF).

The attacks have continued despite the announcement made by the US, which has the largest number of troops operating in Iraq, regarding the withdrawal of its soldiers from several bases and redeploying them to other bases in the country.

The US-led coalition is also repositioning its forces deployed in some 11 military bases throughout Iraq.

Around 300 soldiers of the coalition have withdrawn from the Iraqi military base in Al-Qaim, western Iraq, on the border with Syria, and other troops are to be withdrawn from the Qayyarah and Kirkuk bases in the north of the country.

Some of the soldiers and their artillery have previously been repositioned to coalition sites in Syria, which is in a state of war, while others will be sent to other bases in Iraq or Kuwait.

READ: Remembering the US Invasion of Iraq 2003

The announcement came after repeated rocket attacks on Iraqi military bases housing foreign soldiers, and on the US embassy in Baghdad. Since late October, 26 attacks have targeted foreign forces in Iraq.

On 11 March, a raid on the Taji base in the north of Baghdad, led to the deaths of two US soldiers and a female British soldier.

It seems that the COVID-19 outbreak has accelerated the withdrawals, as the French chief of staff announced on Wednesday that Paris has decided to withdraw its soldiers from Iraq, where they were participating in training operations.

"In coordination with the Iraqi government, the coalition decided to adjust the size of its deployment in Iraq and suspend training activities for the Iraqi security forces temporarily, especially in view of the health crisis," the French chief of staff disclosed in a statement.

The statement added: "France decided to repatriate, until further notice, its soldiers deployed in Iraq, as part of the Operation Chammal." This operation comprised approximately 200 soldiers, some of whom participated in training Iraqi forces and others were integrated in the coalition's command in Baghdad.

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