update: A US offical has confirmed to CNN that a total of three rockets struck the US Embassy in Baghdad Sunday evening. And importantly, the US has further confirmed one injured in the attack.
There's still been no claim of responsibility, however the State Department pointed the finger at Iran-backed militias, following over a dozen similar prior rocket attacks on the diplomatic compound since September: "The security situation remains tense and Iranian-backed armed groups remain a threat. So, we remain vigilant," a spokesperson said. Other regional outlets are citing US defense officials to say one of the Katyusha rockets directly impacted a dining facility or cafeteria at the embassy, which would be a first, given all prior recent missile attacks have landed away from key buildings on the compound.
There are unconfirmed reports that more US personnel may be injured from the attack:
The attack injured some embassy staff, Al Arabiya reported. One rocket hit an embassy cafeteria at dinner time while two others landed near by, a security source said.
Local media reports claimed a US military response against Iran-backed Shia Iraqi militias is imminent, yet this is also unconfirmed.
Meanwhile, an Al Jazeera correspondent observed that US jets were active over Baghdad in the hours following the attack, but that the uptick in flyovers has since ceased.
Former Deputy Prime Minister Hoshyar Zebari called it an act of an “unruly militia” and confirmed the following details in a Tweet, though the Pentagon has yet to give official statement: “The Embassy restaurant or canteen was damaged and burned. This is a very dangerous game by #PMF uncontrolled factions to galvanize the tense situation. It must stop,” he stated, in reference to the pro-Iran Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF).
Needless to say, the potential for the White House ordering a significant response in the coming hours or days remains high.
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At least three rockets slammed into the US Embassy in Baghdad's Green Zone during the night hours of Sunday, the AFP news agency reported.
In total five Katyusha rockets were launched on the heavily fortified embassy compound, with three reportedly making a direct hit on the embassy campus, and at least one scoring a direct hit on the embassy dining hall. It's unclear whether there are any casualties, which have not been reported. Iraq's caretaker prime minister denied that there were any casualties.
Personnel at the compound were given "duck and cover" and "seek shelter" inbound projectiles warning during and following the attack, which is suspected to have been conducted by Iraqi Shia Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF).
There were initially conflicting reports of the actual extent of the damage, or whether the unguided rockets reached the embassy itself.
At least one Iraqi official said there was a direct hit of one of the missiles on the US embassy, which some reports said ignited a fire in the dining hall; however, US sources did not immediately issue a confirmation or denial.
Iraqi sources have confirmed the attack, but not the US diplomatic officials themselves:
Later Iraq's security forces said in a statement that five rockets hit the high-security Green Zone with no casualties. It did not mention the US embassy.
BREAKING: Rocket Attack on US Embassy in #Iraq— Joyce Karam (@Joyce_Karam) January 26, 2020
• Katyusha 🚀 hit Emb. in Baghdad
• 3 rockets inside Embassy (AFP)
• One hit Emb. dining hall (@GebeilyM)
• No deaths, but injuries unclear (BBC)
• Iraq Gov, PM condemn
• First Direct hit at embassy, others missed
Iraq's prime minister confirmed 5 rockets were launched and hit inside the Green Zone:
“Five Katyusha rockets hit the Green Zone without causing any casualties,” the Iraqi military communications center said in a statement. The Green Zone is a fortified area in the capital where diplomatic offices, as well as government buildings, are located.
The Iraqi Commander in Chief, caretaker Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi, issued a separate statement shortly after, condemning the act of “aggression,” noting that the missiles fell “inside the US embassy compound.”
Though not the first time the US Embassy in Baghdad has been target of Iran-backed militia rocket fire in the country, the incident comes as tensions and anti-American sentiment are ready to explode.
Over the past days hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, possibly over a million, have demonstrated in the streets demanding all US forces exit.