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Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Rocket attack in Iraq marks third in one week

Two rockets fell near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on Monday, the third such attack in Iraq in the span of one week.

The Katyusha rockets landed inside the Green Zone on Monday evening Iraqi time, a spokesperson for the Defeat ISIS coalition wrote in a social media post, citing Iraqi officials. The attack caused no injuries or casualties. The Green Zone is several miles wide and houses the embassy and other government buildings.

The attack comes after at least four rockets struck Balad Air Base on Saturday night, wounding one person. The U.S. defense company Sallyport has a presence at the base and is contracted to provide support to Iraq’s fleet of U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets.

And last week, a dozen rockets targeted coalition forces outside Erbil International Airport, killing one non-U.S. contractor and wounding nine more people, including five Americans.

The latest strike, which a defense official initially said involved three rockets before the military clarified that it was two, could increase pressure on President Joe Biden’s administration to warn Iran against dangerous activity in the region. Although the Shia militia group that claimed credit for the first attack is widely known to have close ties to Tehran, the Biden administration has refrained from pointing fingers.

U.S. officials said the intelligence does not yet point to a clear culprit and indicated they would let the Iraqis lead the investigation and any military response.

Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby on Monday declined to answer a question about whether U.S. officials planned to communicate to Iran that killing an American is a red line, as the previous administration did, though he said Washington’s view on Tehran’s activities is “perfectly clear.”

Kirby added that while the Pentagon supports NATO’s recent decision to deploy additional troops to Iraq, there are no plans to expand U.S. force levels in that country.

This post courtesy of politico

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