U.S. Embassy in Baghdad Is Hit by Rocket Fire

U.S. Embassy in Baghdad Is Hit by Rocket Fire


BAGHDAD — The United States Embassy in Baghdad was struck by rocket fire late Sunday, with at least one hitting a dining facility, slightly injuring one person and causing minor building damage.

It was unclear whether any of the other four rockets launched in the attack landed inside the embassy compound, but the assault prompted alarm in Washington over how to calibrate the response. For security reasons, neither the Iraqi nor American officials, or the embassy, would discuss locations or other specifics of the attack.

The Iraqi government moved quickly to condemn the attack and promised a vigorous investigation.

“We denounce the continuation of these outlawed actions that have the goal of weakening the Iraqi state and violating its sovereignty and the sanctity of diplomatic missions on its soil,” Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi of Iraq said in a statement released on Sunday night.

The statement said that Iraqi forces had been ordered to “search and investigate to prevent such attacks” and to arrest those who launched the rockets.

The statement, which was released within hours of the attack, appeared aimed to reassure the Americans that the Iraqis were taking the attack seriously and would be mounting a vigorous response. The comments stand in stark contrast to the response both to the attack on a military base in Kirkuk, Iraq, at the end of December, which resulted in the death of an American contractor, and to the siege of the United States Embassy on Jan. 1.

Mr. Abdul Mahdi also used the statement as a way to remind the public, which is divided about whether to have United States troops stay in the country, that using force would risk “dangerous consequences and repercussions” that could damage Iraqi interests and “drag Iraq into a war.”

The strikes come less than a month after the attack at a joint Iraqi-American base in Kirkuk led to the death of an Iraqi-American contractor, setting off a series of retaliatory responses that pushed the United States and Iran to the brink of war. The Americans accused Kataib Hezbollah, an Iraqi militia with close links to Iran, of responsibility for the Kirkuk attack.

There has been no claim of responsibility for Sunday’s rocket attack. The military commander for Asaib al-Haq, a coalition of armed group with links to Iran that opposes America’s presence in Iraq, denied responsibility.

“We stress that the recent rocket bombing against the evil embassy in Baghdad is not the action of the Iraqi resistance factions, because we have stressed earlier that the resistance factions will not target the embassies and the diplomatic missions in Iraq,” said Jawad Al-Tilaybawi, the commander of Asaib al-Haq.

While rocket fire in the Green Zone in Baghdad has been a regular occurrence in recent months, the rockets fired on Sunday and last week were more accurate, landing closer to the embassy, according to eyewitnesses.

Often in the past, the rockets have fallen in a nearby river or far from the embassy compound.



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