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Rocket attack targets the US embassy in Baghdad

The US Embassy is seen from across the Tigris River in Baghdad, Iraq (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)
The US Embassy is seen from across the Tigris River in Baghdad, Iraq (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

A rocket attack at the sprawling US Embassy in Baghdad on Friday morning caused minor material damage but no casualties, US and Iraqi officials said.

The attack is the first on the US Embassy in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone to be confirmed since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war.

The zone houses Iraqi government buildings and embassies, on the west bank of the Tigris River.

Iran-backed militias in Iraq have claimed responsibility for dozens of attacks that targeted bases housing US troops in Iraq and Syria since the Israel-Hamas war began three months ago.

The US military says a total of 78 attacks have been carried out against US facilities over the past weeks, of which 37 were in Iraq and 41 in Syria.

An Iraqi security official said 14 Katyusha rockets were fired on Friday, of which some struck near one of the embassy’s gates while others fell in the river.

The official said the rocket attack caused material damage but no casualties.

A US military official said a multi-rocket attack was launched at US and Coalition forces in the vicinity of the embassy complex and Union III, which houses offices of the US-led coalition.

The official added that no casualties and no damage to infrastructure were reported.

An embassy spokesperson said at approximately 4.15 am (2.15 am GMT), the US Embassy was attacked by two salvos of rockets.

“Assessments are ongoing, but there are no reported casualties on the Embassy compound,” the official said, adding that by Friday morning no specific group had claimed responsibility, but indications are the attacks were from Iran-aligned militias.

“We again call on the Government of Iraq, as we have done on many occasions, to do all in its power to protect diplomatic and Coalition partner personnel and facilities,” the official said.

“We reiterate that we reserve the right to self-defence and to protect our personnel anywhere in the world.”

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani said in a statement that “targeting diplomatic missions is something that cannot be justified”.

He called the attack an “insult to Iraq, its stability and security,” and promised to “pursue the perpetrators of the attack … and bring them to justice.”

Mr Sudani came to power with the support of a coalition of Iran-backed parties, but he also wants continued good relations with the US and has backed the ongoing presence of American troops in his country.

While no group claimed responsibility for the embassy attack, the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, an umbrella group of Iran-backed militias, issued statements claiming separate attacks Friday on the al-Asad airbase in western Iraq, which is used by US forces, and on a base located at the Conoco gas field in eastern Syria.

There are roughly 2,500 US troops in Iraq and around 900 others in eastern Syria, on missions against the Islamic State group.

In both countries, Iran has militias loyal to Tehran.

In response to attacks against American troops, the US has retaliated with airstrikes three times in Syria since October 17, targeting weapons depots and other facilities linked directly to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and the militias.

The US also struck multiple sites in Iraq late last month after a militia group fired short-range ballistic missiles at US forces at al Asad air base.