Attacks Targeting US Assets in Iraq Ramp Up
Iraqi security sources on Thursday confirmed that rockets struck inside Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, where the US Embassy is located. It was the fifth attack targeting American interests in the country in the past 10 days. There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage. While no group claimed responsibility, the Trump Administration has blamed Iraqi Shi’ite forces with links to Tehran for targeting US assets in the country some three dozen times since October. Thursday’s assault was the second incident of rocket fire close to the US mission this month, while other attacks have targeted US troops stationed at the Iraqi capital’s main airport, as well as the Taji military base located about 20 miles to the north. Tensions between Washington and Tehran reached a boiling point in January with the killing of Quds Force leader Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in a US drone strike outside Baghdad’s international airport. While relative calm has persisted during the coronavirus pandemic, the renewed uptick in violence threatens to derail a strategic dialogue between President Donald Trump and newly minted Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi. The aim of the talks is to better define the full spectrum of the nations’ bilateral relationship, primarily in the military and economic spheres.