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US embassy in Baghdad targeted by rockets after announcement of troop withdrawal

The US embassy in Baghdad was targeted by rocket fire which injured five civilians and killed one child

The United States' embassy in Iraq's capital Baghdad was targeted by rocket fire last night, in an attack which injured five civilians and killed one child.

Seven rockets were fired on the Green Zone within Baghdad from the city's eastern Al-Ameen neighbourhood, a statement by the Iraqi military confirmed. Four of the rockets landed inside the zone, while the other three hit surrounding areas outside of it where a young girl was killed and the five other civilians wounded.

US forces suffered no casualties, however, with the military and diplomatic personnel taking protection in shelters during the attack. There was also reportedly no material damage to the US embassy building.

It has not yet been identified who or which group fired the rockets, but it is highly suspected that it was conducted by one of the Iran-backed Shia militias under the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF). The militant groups Kata'ib Hezbollah and Asaib Ahl al-Haq are amongst the most prominent, and have constantly threatened US forces within the country.

READ: It is time for the Iran-backed axis militias to be treated exactly like Daesh

A previous rocket attack on the US embassy took place back in August, with also no casualties reported. Last month, the Iran-backed Shia militias agreed on a "conditional ceasefire" to halt their attacks on the US embassy and diplomatic mission, on the condition that the Iraqi government present a timetable for the withdrawal of US troops. That came after the US government drew up a list of 80 sites belonging to the militias that it planned to strike if the attacks continued.

The Iraqi government under Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi has promised to tackle the rampant Iran-backed Shia militias, their attacks on diplomatic missions, and their assassinations of critics throughout the country.

Although efforts have been made to limit their influence on the country's armed forces and society by conducting raids on militia headquarters and arresting several members, many claim that enough is not being done and that the militias are not being adequately confronted.

Pressure on the Iraqi government has only grown after the US threatened in September to withdraw its diplomatic mission and to close its embassy in Baghdad, which Iraq has protested due to its fears of a breakdown in security were it to leave the country.

This latest rocket attack last night came just moments after the US administration under President Donald Trump announced the further withdrawal of thousands of more US troops from Iraq and Afghanistan by 15 January next year, leaving the official number of troops at 2,500 in those countries.

READ: Kadhimi is dancing with snakes without a flute

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