Iraqi forces seized 18 rockets set to launch toward Baghdad airport: commander  

A convoy of Iraqi special forces in the countryside south of Kirkuk. (Photograph: Ghaith Abdul-Ahad/The Guardian)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Iraqi forces seized 18 rockets set to launch towards Baghdad airport and diplomatic missions, Iraq’s military said on Saturday.

Baghdad Operations Commander Ahmed Salim said the security forces had foiled three attempted attacks on the airport and the diplomatic missions in Baghdad, state news agency INA reported.

“The Baghdad operations command … has taken several measures to prevent targeting Green Zone, diplomatic missions and the airport with indirect fire,” Salim told INA.

The security forces managed to seize 10 “Grad rockets more than two weeks ago”, he said. Eight more other Katyusha rockets were seized set to launch toward the airport, he added.

The Green Zone hosts foreign embassies and government buildings and is regularly the target of rockets fired by groups that U.S. and Iraqi officials say are backed by Iran.

On Thursday, two rockets fired near the U.S. embassy in the Iraqi capital, according to security sources.

The rocket attack came three days after Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi and U.S. President Joe Biden sealed an agreement formally ending U.S. combat mission in Iraq by the end of 2021.

There are currently 2,500 U.S. troops in Iraq focusing on countering the remnants of Islamic State (ISIS). The U.S. role in Iraq will shift entirely to training and advising the Iraqi military to defend itself.

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