Terrorism

Rocket hits near US embassy in Baghdad

By AFP

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A general view shows the US embassy across the Tigris river in Iraq's capital Baghdad on January 3rd. [Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP]

A rocket hit near the US embassy in Baghdad early Tuesday (May 19th), security sources told AFP, the first to land in the high-security zone in weeks.

The blast could be heard across the Iraqi capital and triggered security sirens at the US embassy compound but did not cause casualties, the sources confirmed.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

It follows more than two dozen similar attacks against US interests in Iraq since October that the US has blamed on Iran-backed militias.

The volleys of rockets, which have killed US, British and Iraqi armed personnel, have severely strained ties between Baghdad and Washington.

Tensions reached the boiling point in January when the US killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in a drone strike on Baghdad.

But the US and Iraq have hoped to reset the relationship since Prime Minister Mustafa Kadhemi took office earlier this month, with bilateral talks planned for June.

The negotiations are expected to set a framework for the presence of US troops, which deployed to Iraq in 2014 to lead a coalition fighting the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS).

The US-led coalition has drawn down its 7,500-strong force in Iraq this year, citing a decreased threat from ISIS and difficulties training Iraqi forces due to the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

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