Iraqi military officials on Sunday confirmed five rockets were fired into Baghdad’s Green Zone, resulting in no injuries or deaths.
“Five Katyusha rockets hit the Green Zone without casualties,” the Iraqi Security Cell confirmed, adding that details will be released later. The Green Zone is a heavily fortified area in the Iraqi capital that also includes the U.S. Embassy and other foreign missions.
Video footage that was apparently shot from the Green Zone suggested rocket sirens were going off.
سقوط خمسة صواريخ كاتيوشا على المنطقة الخضراء بدون خسائر . والتفاصيل لاحقا .#خلية_الاعلام_الامني
— خلية الإعلام الأمني🇮🇶 (@SecMedCell) January 26, 2020
BBC reporter Nafiseh Kohnavard reported that she and others were told to “seek shelter.” She wrote, “We are still advised to take cover in Union III, just across the road from the #US embassy in Green Zone #Baghdad. A few rockets allegedly hit nearby. I didn’t hear any explosions as we were in hard cover.”
Late last week, three Katyusha rockets landed near the Green Zone, confirmed the Iraqi Security Cell, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Iraqi Prime Minister’s office. A week before that, rockets were fired at the Taji training camp, said the same military officials.
A Katyusha is a type of rocket artillery that was first built by the Soviet Union during World War II 75 years ago, but later variants of the weapons system have been exported to Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, and other parts of the Middle East. Katyusha rockets are frequently fired into the Green Zone.
Tensions have been high in the Middle East after the United States carried out an airstrike that killed Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad in early January. Iran then fired a barrage of missiles at Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops the following week.
The White House said it approved the killing of Soleimani, the commander of the shadowy Quds Force group, because he was planning attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq and other American assets. Just days before his death, Iranian-backed militia groups had staged attacks on the embassy.
In the spring of 2019, the U.S. Department of State declared the Quds Force and its parent group, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, as a Foreign Terrorist Organizations. Kata’ib Hezbollah, an Iran-backed group in Iraq that was responsible for the death of an American contractor in late December as well as other attacks on Americans, was also labeled as a terrorist organization at the time.
After the contractor’s death, the United States carried out airstrikes on several Kata’ib Hezbollah targets in Syria and Iraq in December, confirmed Defense Secretary Mark Esper in early January.