Rocket hits near US embassy in Baghdad

Iraqi counter-terrorism forces stand guard in front of the US embassy in the capital Baghdad. (File/AFP)
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Updated 19 May 2020

Rocket hits near US embassy in Baghdad

BAGHDAD: One rocket hit near the US embassy in Baghdad early Tuesday morning, security sources told AFP, the first to land in the high-security zone in weeks.
The blast could be heard across the Iraqi capital and triggered security sirens at the US embassy compound but did not cause casualties, the sources confirmed.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
It follows more than two dozen similar attacks against American interests in Iraq since October that the US has blamed on Iran-backed factions among Iraq’s security forces.
The volleys of rockets, which have killed US, British and Iraqi armed personnel, have severely strained ties between Baghdad and Washington.
Tensions reached boiling point in January when the US killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi commander Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis in a drone strike on Baghdad.
But the US and Iraq have hoped to reset the relationship since Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhemi took the helm earlier this month, with bilateral talks planned for June.
The negotiations are expected to set a framework for the presence of US troops, which deployed to Iraq in 2014 to lead a coalition fighting back the Daesh group.
But the forces are a thorn in the side of Iran and its allies in Iraq, which have insisted they leave the country.
On Sunday, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the US “will not be staying either in Iraq or Syria and must withdraw and will certainly be expelled.”
The US-led coalition has already drawn down its 7,500-strong force in Iraq this year, citing a decreased threat from IS and difficulties training Iraqi forces due to the spread of the coronavirus.


LIVE: Middle East returns to normal life amid strict COVID-19 measures 

Updated 29 min 49 sec ago

LIVE: Middle East returns to normal life amid strict COVID-19 measures 

DUBAI: Efforts to return life gradually back to some kind of normality in parts of the Middle East continue, as governments get ready to reopen borders and airlines take bookings for flights. 
Tunisia said it will open its sea, land and air borders on June 27 in the hope of rescuing its tourism industry as the coronavirus pandemic comes under control.
Emirates airline also announced that it was taking bookings for flights from Dubai to 12 Arab countries from the start of July. Emirates began operating scheduled flight services to nine destinations around the world from May 21, including London Heathrow, Frankfurt, Paris, Milan, Madrid, Chicago, Toronto, Sydney and Melbourne.
Meanwhile, Lebanon’s commercial complexes, hotels, cafes and museums reopened their doors to customers on Monday after closing for two-and-a-half months. 

June 2, Tuesday (GMT Times)

09:43 - New reported cases of coronavirus are steadily declining in Western Europe, but not in Russia and Eastern Europe: World Health Organization spokeswoman said.

09:34 - Formula One has unveiled an eight-race schedule in Europe from July 5 amid the coronavirus pandemic.

09:32 - Iran has reported 64 coronavirus deaths, 3,117 cases, raising total infected people to 157,562 with 7,942 fatalities.

09:20 - The number of coronavirus deaths in Britain is close to 50,000, Reuters reported.

09:07 – Hong Kong will extend restrictions on foreign visitors by another three months and an eight-person limit on group gatherings by two weeks, Health Secretary Sophia Chan said on Tuesday.
Both measures were due to expire later in June.
Travellers to Hong Kong need to undergo a mandatory 14 day quarantine period.

08:45 – 12,739 people died from coronavirus in England and Wales as of May 22, the Office for National Statistics said.

08:16 – Senegal has postponed the restart of schools until further notice after several teachers tested positive for the new coronavirus, the education ministry said late on Monday.

07:51 – Russia has confirmed 8,863 coronavirus cases and 182 deaths in the past 24 hours.

07:02 – A Wuhan doctor who worked with coronavirus whistleblower Li Wenliang died of the virus last week, state media reported Tuesday, becoming China's first COVID-19 fatality in weeks.
07:00 Paris gets some of its pre-lockdown life back as cafes and restaurants partially reopen Tuesday.
06:51 – The global coronavirus death toll has topped 375,000, according to AFP tally.

06:45 – The first Rohingya refugee died from coronavirus in Bangladesh, an official said.

05:59Egypt has sanitized prisons and carried out tests on prisoners across the country after banning visits to help curb the spread of coronavirus, local daily Egypt Today reported.

05:50 – A cluster of nine coronavirus cases raised concerns in Hong Kong over renewed local transmission in a city that has been one of the most successful in keeping the pandemic under control. 

05:18 – The United States on Monday recorded 743 new coronavirus deaths in 24 hours, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker, bringing its total to 105,099 since the global pandemic began.