Rocket fired into Baghdad’s Green Zone, no casualties

Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone is home to Iraq's parliament and other government offices and the diplomatic quarter. (File/Getty)
Updated 20 May 2019

Rocket fired into Baghdad’s Green Zone, no casualties

  • A blast was heard in central Baghdad on Sunday night
  • Rocket was fired into Baghdad's heavily-fortified Green Zone

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
accurate.

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.

 


Libyan navy says more than 300 migrants rescued

Updated 26 min ago

Libyan navy says more than 300 migrants rescued

  • 128 Sudanese were in the boats, in addition to migrants from Chad, Egypt, Niger, Benin and Eritrea
  • It came days after Libyan navy patrols “rescued 278 migrants on board four inflatable boats

TRIPOLI: The Libyan navy said Sunday 335 migrants had been rescued and one body recovered in separate operations off the coast, as they tried to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe.
Nine children were among 57 migrants in a wooden boat rescued Saturday about 40 nautical miles from the town of Zuwara, west of Tripoli, navy spokesman General Ayoub Kacem told AFP.
He said they were from Ethiopia and Egypt.
It came days after Libyan navy patrols on Tuesday “rescued 278 migrants on board four inflatable boats northwest and northeast of Tripoli,” Kacem added.
The operations took place off the coasts of the cities of Khoms, 120 kilometers (75 miles) east of Tripoli, and Sabratha, located 70 kilometers west of the capital.
According to the statement, 128 Sudanese were in the boats, in addition to migrants from Chad, Egypt, Niger, Benin and Eritrea, including 35 women and 11 children.
One body was also recovered by the coast guard.
Libya, which has been wracked by chaos since the 2011 uprising that killed dictator Muammar Qaddafi, has long been a major transit route for migrants, especially from sub-Saharan Africa.
In general, migrants rescued at sea are first met by humanitarian agencies that provide medical care and food.
They are then taken into the charge of the body working to combat immigration at the interior ministry of the UN-recognized Government of National Accord.
On August 9, the Libyan navy accused the authorities of failing to manage migrants rescued at sea, claiming that it could be forced to let people go free once brought back to land.
Despite the risks, migrants continue to attempt to reach Europe by sea, preferring to take their chances than stay in Libya, where they are subject to abuse, extortion and torture, according to humanitarian organizations.