January 28, 2020
The Iraqi prime minister has promised to strengthen security for the US embassy in Baghdad after one person was injured in the latest missile attack on the compound.
Adel Abdul Mahdi stressed, in a phone call with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday, the importance of respecting Iraq’s sovereignty by everyone.
He also said there was a need to de-escalate tensions in the region, according to a statement from his office.
Gen. Frank McKenzie, a top US commander for the Middle East, said on Monday mortars were used in the attack on the embassy that injured one person and caused some material damage the previous night, not katyusha rockets as was initially reported by staffers and a statement from the military.
The mortar attack started a fire that was put out. He said no US military members were injured, but that one US national received a minor injury but has returned to work.
The US embassy is within the Iraqi capital’s Green Zone, and has been a flashpoint amid wider regional tensions between the US and Iran, which have played out inside Iraq in recent weeks. Iraqi supporters of an Iran-backed militia stormed the embassy compound on Dec. 31, smashing the main door and setting fire to the reception area.
An initial military statement said at least five katyusha rockets had landed inside the Green Zone late Sunday. It was the third attack targeting the US embassy this month, and the perpetrators were not immediately known. Perpetrators had used katyusha rockets in previous attacks and caused no injuries.
There was no claim of responsibility for any of the attacks. But the US has accused Iran-backed militias of targeting US interests by attacking military bases housing Americans and diplomatic missions.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdel Mahdi to uphold his country’s “sovereignty” in the face of “attacks” from Iran on US facilities in Iraq.
Pompeo “expressed his outrage at the continued assaults by Iran’s armed groups against US facilities in Iraq, including yesterday’s rocket attacks against our Embassy, which resulted in one injury,” the State Department said in a statement.
The statement said that “these attacks demonstrate a wanton disregard for Iraqi sovereignty and a failure to rein in these dangerous armed groups.”
Pompeo said on Twitter that “the government of #Iraq must take immediate steps to protect our diplomatic facilities as required by international law.”