BAGHDAD: A Katyusha rocket was fired on Sunday into Baghdad’s Green Zone housing government offices and embassies including the US mission, days after the US evacuated staff from Iraq citing threats from Iran.
A blast was heard in central Baghdad on Sunday night, witnesses said, and two Baghdad-based diplomatic sources also said they heard the explosion.
“A Katyusha rocket fell in the middle of the Green Zone without causing any losses, details to come later,” the military said in a brief statement.
The Katyusha multiple rocket launcher is an inexpensive type of rocket artillery that can deliver explosives to a target quicker than conventional artillery, but is less
The US Embassy in Baghdad and its consulate in the Iraqi Kurdish regional capital Irbil evacuated non-emergency staff this week.
“We don’t think that the target was the embassy as the range of the rocket and the place from were it was launched is far away,” a security source told Arab News.
“It is a Katyusha rocket that was launched from eastern Baghdad, so there is no way it could reach its goal. Anyone who has basic experience in this kind of weaponry would know this,” the source said.
President Donald Trump’s administration has said it sent additional forces to the region to counter what it called credible threats from Iran against US interests, including from militias it supports in Iraq.
Iran and the US have both said they do not want war as tensions between the two nations increase.
The US Embassy in Baghdad — its largest in the world — lies within the fortified neighborhood, also known as the International Zone, which is surrounded by concrete walls.
In September last year, assailants fired three mortar rounds into the Green Zone in a rare attack that did not cause casualties or damage. No one claimed responsibility for the attack.
That same month the US shut its consulate in Basra and ordered all but emergency staff to leave the southern port city hit by weeks of protests and relocate to Baghdad.
At the time, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iranian militants for “indirect fire” — which usually means rockets or artillery — against the US consulate.