Rockets fired at Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone

Two Katyusha rockets have struck Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, which houses several Western embassies, the Iraqi military has said.

One rocket was destroyed in the air by the C-RAM defence system and the other landed near a national monument and damaged two cars, the military said in a statement on Sunday.

Security forces started an investigation to detect the launch site. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

A United States military official told the Reuters news agency that the C-RAM system brought down one of the rounds and none of them landed on the US embassy. The official said there were no American casualties. Other casualties are not yet known.

The Green Zone hosts foreign embassies, including the US embassy, and government buildings and is regularly the target of rockets fired by groups that US and Iraqi officials say are backed by Iran.

US officials have said the Iranian-backed armed groups could increase attacks on US troops in Iraq and Syria in the coming weeks, in part to mark the anniversary of the assassination of the top Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani, and Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

The two were killed by a US drone strike in Iraq on January 2, 2020.

The latest rocket salvo comes after Iraq this week announced the end of the “combat mission” on its territory of the anti-ISIL (ISIS) coalition led by Washington.

But roughly 2,500 American soldiers and 1,000 coalition soldiers deployed in Iraq will remain in the nation to pursue a role of training, advice and assistance.

Pro-Iran factions in Iraq are calling for the departure of all US forces stationed in the country.

The attack also coincides with the 10th anniversary of the departure of US troops from Iraq on December 18, 2011, after the invasion and overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Washington then deployed its troops to the country to fight ISIL, which had captured large swaths of the nation in a lightning offensive.

In early November, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi escaped unharmed from an unclaimed drone bomb attack, which targeted his official residence in the Green Zone.

In September, an “armed drone” attack targeted Erbil international airport in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region, where there is a base hosting coalition troops.