Iraqi PM says rocket attack on Green Zone was ‘a cowardly, terrorist move’

File – Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi chairs a meeting of Council of Ministers (PM office)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi said on Monday that a rocket attack on Baghdad’s Green Zone was a “cowardly, terrorist move”.  

A volley of rockets exploded near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on Sunday night. 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 attack on the Green Zone was a cowardly, terrorist move,” Kadhimi said during a press conference on Monday.

“These acts are criminal and cowardly, affecting the name and prestige of Iraq, and they are rejected by the people and the government,” Kadhimi added.

The rockets were launched from the vicinity of al-Rasheed military camp, causing material damage to buildings, the U.S. Embassy compound and a number of civilian vehicles.

No casualties were reported.

Kadhimi further said the security forces made arrests on Sunday night and seized a number of other rockets and launchers, preventing the groups from carrying out a second attack which was being prepared for.

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”.

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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