Kurdistan Region Presidency condemns rocket attack on U.S. embassy

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SULAIMANI (ESTA) — The Kurdistan Region Presidency condemned a rocket attack targeting the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone.

A volley of rockets exploded near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on Sunday night, as tensions mount ahead of the anniversary of the U.S. killing of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani on Iraqi soil.

“Attacks on diplomatic missions and their representatives violate conventions on international relations,” the Region’s presidency said in a statement late on Sunday.

“They are assaults on the sovereignty of Iraq, against its interests, and endanger relations with the international community,” it added.

“As hosts, it is the duty of the Iraqi government to maintain the security of diplomatic missions and protect its staff. Further, it is the responsibility of the host country to bring perpetrators to appropriate justice.”

The Iraqi military said that an “outlaw group” fired the rockets at Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, which houses government buildings, U.S. Embassy and other foreign missions.

The rockets hit a residential complex inside the Green Zone, damaging buildings and cars but causing no casualties, a military statement said.

U.S. officials blame Iran-backed militia for regular rocket attacks on U.S. facilities in Iraq, including near the embassy in Baghdad. No known Iran-backed groups have claimed responsibility.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned the attack in a statement late on Sunday, saying Iran-backed militias “are the most serious impediment” to helping Iraq return to peace and prosperity.

“The same militias targeting diplomatic facilities are stealing Iraqi state resources on a massive scale, attacking peaceful protesters and activists, and engaging in sectarian violence,” he added.

Pompeo also called on the Iraqis to support their government’s efforts to reinforce Iraq’s sovereignty, to bring to justice those responsible for “these reprehensible attacks and ensure that all the currently Iran-backed militias are under state control”.

Iraqi Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called on the federal government to declare a “state of emergency” following the rocket attack.

“No one has the right to use weapons outside of the state,” Sadr said in a tweet on Sunday.

“The government should declare a state of emergency in Baghdad and use the army exclusively to protect civilians and diplomatic missions,” Sadr added, noting that he is prepared for security cooperation.

“Anybody who uses weapon outside the jurisdiction of the state … is either a terrorist or outside the law,” he continued.

An array of militia groups announced in October that they had suspended rocket attacks on U.S. forces on condition that Iraq’s government present a timetable for the withdrawal of American troops.

But a rocket strike on the U.S. Embassy on Nov. 18 was also a clear sign that Iranian-backed militias had decided to resume attacks on U.S. bases, according to Iraqi security officials.

Washington, which is slowly reducing its 5,000 troops in Iraq, threatened to shut its embassy unless the Iraqi government reins in Iran-aligned militias.

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