New rockets hit near Baghdad's Green Zone: security source

Iraqi counter-terrorism forces stand guard in front of the US Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq. (File/AFP)
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Updated 17 March 2020

New rockets hit near Baghdad's Green Zone: security source

  • The projectiles hit an apartment building and wounded three people there
  • No diplomatic missions in the Green Zone were affected

BAGHDAD: At least three rockets struck Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone near the American Embassy late Tuesday, a day after an attack on a training base south of Baghdad where US-led coalition troops and NATO trainers were present, Iraqi security officials said. It was the fourth such attack in the span of a week.
At least three rockets struck the Green Zone, the seat of Iraq’s government and home to several foreign embassies, two Iraqi security officials said. Myles Caggins, spokesman for the coalition, said the rockets fell at least 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) from the embassy.
There were no immediate reports of casualties.
The previous evening, rockets hit the Basmaya base near the Iraqi capital, an Iraqi army statement said. The projectiles landed in an area that includes agricultural land and a factory, according to the statement. No more details were provided.
A Spanish contingent of the coalition and NATO trainers are present at the Basmaya site. There was no immediate confirmation of the attack from the coalition and no militant group claimed responsibility for the assault.
Last Wednesday, a barrage of over two dozen rockets struck Camp Taji, north of Baghdad, killing three coalition servicemen, including two Americans. A British serviceman was also killed. It was the deadliest to target US troops in Iraq since a late December rocket attack on an Iraqi base, which killed a US contractor and set in motion a series of attacks that brought Iraq to the brink of war.
Wednesday’s barrage was followed by another attack, on Saturday at the same site, which wounded five soldiers — three coalition members and two Iraqi soldiers.
The first attack prompted American airstrikes Friday against what US officials said were mainly weapons facilities belonging to Kataib Hezbollah, the Iran-backed militia group believed to be responsible for the attack.
However, Iraq’s military said those airstrikes killed five security force members and a civilian, while wounding five fighters from the Popular Mobilization Forces, an umbrella organization including an array of militias, including some Iran-backed groups.
Iran-backed militia groups vowed to exact revenge, signalling another cycle of tit-for-tat violence between Washington and Tehran that could play out in Iraq.


Iraq PM pays respects to Hisham Al-Hashemi's family, calls him ‘hero’

Updated 15 min 40 sec ago

Iraq PM pays respects to Hisham Al-Hashemi's family, calls him ‘hero’

  • Kadhimi paid his respects to the family, calling Hashemi — a personal friend and adviser — a “hero”
  • “This behavior is not Iraqi. Iraqis don’t kill Iraqis,” he said

BAGHDAD: Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi paid his respects on Wednesday to the family of slain scholar and government adviser Hisham Al-Hashemi, pledging to “avenge” his death.
Hashemi, 47, was a specialist in extremist movements and had developed a vast network of top decision makers, armed groups and rival parties, often mediating among them.
He was shot dead outside his Baghdad home on Monday night by gunmen on motorcycles, leaving behind a wife, three sons and a daughter.
On Wednesday, Kadhimi paid his respects to the family, calling Hashemi — a personal friend and adviser — a “hero.”
“Those afraid of a word can only be described as cowards. Hisham did nothing but try to help Iraqis through his words,” said Kadhimi, hugging the deceased’s tearful three sons Issa, Moussa and Ahmed.
Their names translate in Arabic to Jesus, Moses and another name for the Prophet Muhammad.
The three boys had rushed outside their home on Monday after hearing gunshots and helped neighbors pull their father’s bullet-riddled body from his car.
“This behavior is not Iraqi. Iraqis don’t kill Iraqis,” Kadhimi said.
“I will avenge him, and God willing his killers will not go free. I am your brother, and Issa, Moussa and Ahmed are my children,” the premier told Hashemi’s widow.
“This is my duty and the state’s duty,” he added.
Hashemi was a renowned researcher on Daesh and had more recently become outspoken against rogue armed actors in Iraq.
He was no stranger to intimidation efforts, but those close to him told AFP he had received more serious threats from Iran-backed groups in recent weeks.
Experts have voiced fear that Hashemi’s killing would usher in a dark era in which prominent voices critical of political parties and armed groups would be violently silenced.
Already, there has been no accountability for more than 550 people killed in protest-related violence since October, when mass rallies slammed Iraq’s government as corrupt, inept and beholden to neighboring Iran.
Among them are around two dozen activists who were shot dead, often by masked assailants on motorcycles.