(TargetLiberty.org) – Despite the US Military’s continued withdrawal from many areas of the Middle East, trouble is once again brewing in Baghdad. A trio of rockets pummeled the 10 km. sq. Green Zone just before dawn on Thursday, July 8. Here’s what we know so far about this troubling event — and what it might predict for the future.
US Embassy Targeted?
Reports show the incident began when a Katyusha rocket struck close to the National Security Council building located near the center of the zone. A second strike quickly followed, landing in an empty courtyard nearby, while a third struck a civilian’s vehicle parked near local housing.
The flow of the attack is eerily similar to another assault from January of 2020. At the time, one of the rockets even managed to fall within US Embassy walls.
Experts believe Iran-backed fighters, whom they feel may ultimately be responsible for the July 8 attack, probably intended to target the 104-acre property once again.
Rising tensions over withdrawal negotiations were likely a significant contributor to Thursday’s incident as well as several other attacks within the last week. Nearly 2,500 US troops remain in Iraq; many local opposing forces disagree with their presence.
Abu Alaa al-Walae, Commander of the Iraqi Shia militia Kata’ib Sayyid Al-Shuhadam, spoke to the Associated Press about the issue in early July. He vowed to retaliate against US troops for killing four of his men, saying he wanted it to be, “an operation in which everyone says they have taken revenge on the Americans.”
Another militia group, known only as “The brigades to avenge al-Muhandis,” previously threatened to, “force [the military] to leave [its] lands defeated.” They were also implicated in a much more serious strike in Syria only a day before.
Despite the level of conflict, a definitive date for complete withdrawal does not yet exist. The US Military continues to negotiate with Baghdad to find a timeline that suits both sides, despite the Iraqi government’s repeated attempts to force a faster departure.
Thursday morning’s attack was the third such assault within a 24-hour period, and only the most recent in a long list of clashes over the past year.
On Wednesday, forces from the previously mentioned brigades to avenge al-Muhandis attempted to fire a total of 30 rockets at Al-Asad Air Force Base in Anbar Province. Only 14 actually made it to the intended target, perhaps because the extremist militia attempted to fire them from a mobile rocket launcher in a truck that was loaded with bags of flour. The rest exploded locally, causing significant damage to nearby homes and a mosque.
Syrian Democratic Forces also stopped a drone attack aimed at forces stationed near Syria’s Al Omar oilfield on July 6. Fortunately, localized defenses were able to take out the machines before any serious damage could occur.
What Does the Future Hold?
The fact that attacks continue, despite attempts to withdraw troops from the area, does not bode well for the future. The attacks certainly jeopardize our troops, putting their lives at risk as they serve both America and Iraq as a whole. But, they also risk the lives of local citizens and critical infrastructure. Continued escalation will only make it more difficult to leave.
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