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 Iraqi protesters storm the US Embassy in Baghdad on 31 December 2019. Less than a month later 3 rockets impacted the U.S Embassy in Baghdad. Photo: Murtadha Sudani / Anadolu Agency
 In December 2019, Iraqi protesters storm the US Embassy in Baghdad, less than a month later three rockets impacted the U.S Embassy in Baghdad. Photo: Murtadha Sudani / Anadolu Agency

What you need to know about the U.S. Embassy attack in Baghdad

Between the impeachment and the coronavirus, the details of an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad have been blurry.

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On Jan. 27, the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad was attacked by rockets entering the Green Zone. At least one struck a military dining facility, known as DFAC. To date, the U.S. has not released details of the attack, but Iraqi officials have announced some property damage. 

What is the Green Zone?

The International Zone of Baghdad, better known as Green Zone, is considered the heart of the international presence in Iraq. It houses both the U.S. Embassy and Iraqi government offices.

Prior to the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, the zone was home to Saddam Hussein’s palaces. After the US military forces seized the four- mile perimeter, it became a “Little America,” off-limits to the public. 

The zone became a symbol of inequality that prompted Iraqis to question if their own government was out of touch with the people. 

Things remained that way for 16 years, until June 2019, when a heavily fortified Green Zone was opened to the rest of the world. 

Seven months later, rockets entered the Green Zone and struck the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. Details on the attack remain unclear. 

 
The attack 

According to the Associated Press, Agence France-Presse spoke to a senior Iraqi official who said there were three rockets, “one hitting the dining hall and two others landing nearby.”

NPR ground reporter, Jane Arraf, said that the dining area was empty at the time of the strike and prompted authorities to put the embassy under lockdown with only essential staff on duty.

The incident happened two days after thousands gathered in Baghdad calling for US troops to leave the country.

After the attack, Iraq's Prime minister Adil Abdul Mahdi condemned the strike, saying it could turn the country into a battlefield and complicate efforts to get the U.S. to withdraw its troops from Iraq

Meanwhile, spokesperson for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Morgan Ortagus, said Pompeo was outraged.

"These attacks demonstrate a wanton disregard for Iraqi sovereignty and a failure to rein in these dangerous armed groups,” read Ortugas.

"The Secretary noted that we view last night's attack on the Embassy as an attempt to distract Iraqi and international attention away from the brutal suppression of peaceful Iraqi protesters by Iran and its proxies," he added. 

Is anyone hurt?

According to the State Department, there are no deaths reported and only one person was injured during the attack.

An official told CNN, that the injury was minor and the person has since returned to work.

Likewise, Pompeo corroborated the information and urged the government of Iraq to “fulfill its obligations to protect our diplomatic facilities," the spokesperson said.

Who is to blame?

As of now, the attack has gone unclaimed and has not been blamed any group.

NPR confirmed Katyusha rockets were used in the attack, the same often used by Tehran-backed militias.

However, a U.S. official later disputed the reporting and said mortars were used —a detail suggesting a broader range of groups could have been involved. 

Until the details become clear, Ortagus said that Pompeo expressed the U.S.'s "willingness to discuss the scope of our forces in Iraq.” 

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