Amid fierce anti-government protests across Iraq, three rockets slammed into the US embassy in Baghdad on Sunday in the first direct hit reported after months of close calls. The attack marked a dangerous escalation in the spree of rocket attacks in recent months that have targeted the embassy or Iraqi military bases where American troops are deployed.
None of the attacks have been claimed but Washington has repeatedly blamed Iran-backed military factions in Iraq. On Sunday, one rocket hit an embassy cafeteria at dinner time while two others landed nearby, news agency AFP reported.
The US embassy did not immediately respond to requests for comment, but a statement by Iraqi security forces earlier in the evening said there were no casualties. Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi and Speaker of Parliament Mohammed Halbusi both condemned the incident, saying it risked dragging their homeland into war.
Since US assassinated Iran’s Quds Force leader General Qasem Suleimani and Iraqi military figure Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis earlier this month in Baghdad, Iraq has become the battleground for both Iran and the US. Iran was prompted to fire ballistic missiles at an Iraqi base where US troops are stationed.
A similar attack on a northern Iraqi base killed an American contractor, and the US retaliated with a strike on an Iran-backed faction known as Kataeb Hezbollah.
Some 5,200 Americans are stationed in Iraq to lead the global coalition fighting the Islamic State group, but the US strike on Baghdad has rallied top Iraqi figures around a joint call to order them out.
Anti-American cleric Moqtada Sadr organised a mass rally in Baghdad on Friday, where thousands of his supporters called for American troops to leave.