Explosions have been heard in Baghdad’s Green Zone amid reports of two rockets that hit near the American embassy early Thursday morning.
Air raid sirens wailed in the zone that houses the US embassy shortly after midnight on Thursday local time.
Iraqi police said that one rocket had landed about 100 yards from the embassy.
The Iraqi military said there were no reports of casualties in the attack.
Initial reports indicated that the rockets were Katyushas, a Soviet-era ground-based multiple rocket launcher used by multiple factions within Iraq.
Iran’s proxy forces in Iraq, the Shiite militias known as the Popular Mobilization Forces, have been known to launch similar rocket attacks on U.S. interests in Iraq the past.
It comes one day after an Iranian ballistic missile strike on Iraqi bases that house US troops. No American casualties were suffered in that attack.
Intelligence source claim that Iran deliberately missed the most devastating targets in that attack, with most of its ballistic missiles failing to hit their targets.
Satellite images released today show only minor damage to the bases in Ain al-Asad in western Iraq and Erbil International airport in the north as Iran wanted to avoid escalating the conflict to all-out war, according to US and European government sources.
Images showed several missiles had either failed to explode on impact or else missed their targets. The remains of one rocket was found near the town of Duhok, some 70 miles from Erbil air base, which was the intended target.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps fired 22 ballistic missiles at the al-Asad airbase and Erbil in the early hours of Wednesday, but failed to kill a single US or Iraqi solider.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, speaking on Iranian TV shortly after the missiles were launched, described the strikes as ‘a slap’ and said they ‘are not sufficient [for revenge]’ while vowing further action to kick US troops out of the region.
But foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the attack was now ‘concluded’, praising Iran’s ‘proportionate’ response and adding: ‘We do not seek escalation or war.’
It came as Iraqi Prime Minister, Adil Abdul-Mahdi, revealed today that Iran gave him a tip-off about last night’s missile strikes, giving time for troops to scramble to bunkers.
He received a call from Tehran warning him an attack was imminent in retaliation for the US killing of its highest ranking general, his spokesman said.
Iraqi officials then passed the information on to US troops before the attack began, according to CNN.
US troops also got a heads up with a warning from America’s advanced detection system based in Maryland.
The rocket attack near the embassy came just over a week after thousands of pro-Iranian militia members and their supporters stormed the compound in anger over American airstrikes.
On December 29, the US killed 25 members of the Kataeb Hezbollah, an armed Iraqi Shi’ite group, in several airstrikes.
This ignited a series of angry protests during which Kataeb supporters stormed the gates of the embassy compound.
US soldiers fired tear gas at the protesters, several of whom were reported wounded. A cordon of Iraqi security forces that had formed around the embassy dissipated when the gas was fired.
No US casualties or evacuations were reported after the attack last Tuesday by dozens of Iran-supported militiamen.
US Marines were sent from Kuwait to reinforce the compound.
. The Iran-supported Kataeb Hezbollah militia is separate but linked to the Lebanese Hezbollah, the armed Shi’ite movement that is best known for its violent cross-border clashes with Israel.
It operates under the umbrella of the state-sanctioned predominantly Shiite militias known collectively as the PMF. Many are supported by Iran.
The US says Kataeb Hezbollah is responsible for 11 attacks on US-led coalition bases in the past two months.
Trump was reportedly so enraged by the images of the embassy compound being stormed by protesters that he authorized the assassination of Soleimani.(Mail)