Rocket attack strikes near U.S. Embassy in Iraq

Rocket attack strikes near U.S. Embassy in Iraq
By Yuliya Talmazan and Associated Press with NBC News World News
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The incident remains under investigation, a U.S. military official told NBC News.


A rocket attack struck near the U.S. Embassy in Iraq early Sunday, a U.S. military and Iraqi officials have confirmed.

"The attack did not injure any personnel, and the coalition remains committed to supporting the government of Iraq to defeat ISIS remits," Col. Myles Caggins, a spokesman for the U.S. military operation in Iraq, told NBC News.

He added that they were not able to identify who was behind the attack, and the incident remains under investigation.

Three Iraqi security officials told the Associated Press that two of the rockets fell inside the U.S. Embassy compound, while another hit near the coalition base. The Iraqi officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Washington has blamed Iran-backed paramilitary groups for increasingly regular rocketing and shelling of bases hosting U.S. forces in Iraq and of the area around the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

An attack last month hit the U.S. Embassy compound itself, and a rocket attack on a military base in the north in December killed a U.S. civilian contractor.

No one has claimed responsibility for Sunday's attack, but the U.S. has accused Iran of being behind previous attacks on U.S. troops and facilities in Iraq.

An Iranian missile attack on Iraq's Ain al-Asad air base on Jan. 8 injured dozens of U.S service members, many of whom have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries.

Iran also launched ballistic missiles against the base in retaliation for the United States' killing of General Qassem Soleimani, who was commander of Iran's elite Quds Force, in a drone operation outside Baghdad's airport in a major escalation that raised fears about the possibility of a full-blown conflict in the region.

No one was killed in those attacks and President Donald Trump said no one had been hurt shortly aftewards. He was subsequently criticized by the Veterans of Foreign Wars and others after he said later in January that "I heard they had headaches" and that "I can report it is not very serious."

Iraq, caught between its two allies Washington and Tehran, also faces an unprecedented domestic crisis as months of anti-government unrest continues.

Prime Minister-designate Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi said on Saturday that the formation of a new government would take place in the coming week.

He said his appointments would consist of independent ministers free from the influence of parties, including Iran-backed Shi'ite groups, that have controlled cabinet posts and state institutions since the U.S.-led overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

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