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  4. US embassy in Iraq attacked with mortar fire, Iran-backed militia vows further strikes

US embassy in Iraq attacked with mortar fire, Iran-backed militia vows further strikes

The US and coalition forces have been attacked at least 82 times by Iran-backed militia in Iraq and Houthi rebels in Syria since October 17. The forces have promised to continue attacking the US as the latter continues to support Israel's operations against Hamas in Gaza.

Aveek Banerjee Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Washington Published on: December 09, 2023 13:12 IST
US embassy in Iraq.
Image Source : REUTERS/FILE US embassy in Iraq.

The US embassy in Iraq came under fire by a multi-mortar attack allegedly by an Iran-backed militia on Friday morning as concerns grow over the fallout of Israel's escalating offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The Iran-backed militia has vowed more such attacks on US interests in Iraq as America continues to back Israel.

At least seven rounds of mortar were launched against the US embassy compound in Baghdad on Friday, although no injuries or infrastructural damage was reported in the incident. A few hours later, US and coalition forces were attacked three more times - once in Syria and twice in Iraq - in a mixture of rocket and drone attacks, reported CNN.

Although the commander of the Iraqi militant group Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada, Abu Alaa al-Walae, did not take responsibility for the attack, he later said that they have rejected "talk about stopping or easing operations as long as Zionist crimes continue in Gaza and the American occupation continues in Iraq".

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani on Friday said that his government will “pursue the perpetrators of the attack” and “bring them to justice”, emphasising that targeting diplomatic missions cannot be justified under any circumstances "regardless of the allegations and illusions behind these shameful acts".

US response to the attack

The US called on Iraqi Security Forces “to immediately investigate and arrest the perpetrators” of the attack. "The many Iran-aligned militias that operate freely in Iraq threaten the security and stability of Iraq, our personnel, and our partners in the region...Prime Minister Sudani rightly called these attacks acts of terrorism," said US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller.

“The Iraqi Government has repeatedly committed to protect diplomatic missions as well as US military personnel, who are present in the country at Iraq’s invitation. This is non-negotiable, as is our right to self-defense,” he said.

The US and coalition forces have been attacked at least 82 times by Iran-backed militia in Iraq and Houthi rebels in Syria since October 17, days after the Israel-Hamas war, as Washington bolstered its military presence as a sign of deterrence aimed at stopping the Israel-Hamas conflict spilling out into the region. 

Previous attacks on US

A few days ago, the US Navy shot down three drones by Houthis in Yemen during ballistic missile attacks on three commercial ships in the Red Sea. The attacks took place in international waters over seven hours, as per USA Today. The Houthis claimed responsibility for two of the attacks against the ships. Two of the carriers were damaged although the destroyer USS Carney was unharmed.

American troops killed at least five Iran-backed militia members in a drone strike after the US “identified an imminent attack” was likely to be launched by militia forces in Iraq. The US military has launched several airstrikes at different locations in Iraq and Syria targeting Iran-backed troops.

In late November, the US Navy apprehended armed attackers who seized an Israeli-linked shop off the coast of Yemen, according to officials. The Yemen-based Houthi rebels then launched two ballistic missiles in apparent retaliation near a US warship aiding the Israel-linked ship in the Gulf of Aden, further heightening tensions in the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

ALSO READ | 'Gap between Israel's intent and...': US criticises IDF operations in Gaza amid deepening humanitarian crisis

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