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Rockets hit Iraq’s Green Zone, US-led coalition leaves base

Rockets hit Iraq’s Green Zone, US-led coalition leaves base

AFP
Qayyarah Base, Iraq
Two rockets slammed into the Iraqi capital’s high-security Green Zone early Thursday, hours before US-led forces were set to pull out of a second base in the country.
Some 7,500 foreign troops are in Iraq as part of the US-led coalition helping local troops fight jihadist remnants, but those numbers are being significantly drawn down this month.
The alliance is temporarily bringing some trainers home as a precautionary measure against the coronavirus pandemic and is also leaving some Iraqi bases altogether.
Those bases and foreign embassies, particularly the American mission, have been targeted in more than two dozen rocket strikes since late October.
The attacks, which the US has blamed on an Iran-backed armed group, have prompted fears of a proxy war on Iraqi soil.
Before dawn on Thursday, two rockets punched into an empty square near an Iraqi security headquarters in the Green Zone, where government buildings and foreign embassies are based, Iraqi security forces said in a statement.
An Iraqi security source told AFP the intended target appeared to be the US embassy, a sprawling compound a few hundred metres (yards) further south on the banks of the Tigris.
There were no reports of casualties, but other attacks have been deadly.
Earlier this month, two US military personnel and a British soldier were killed in a rocket attack on Taji airbase north of Baghdad, that was hit again two days later.
The 5,200 US troops stationed across Iraqi bases make up the bulk of the coalition force helping hunt down Islamic State group sleeper cells across the country.
Iraq declared IS defeated in late 2017, and the coalition is now implementing plans developed last year to consolidate its troop presence across the country.

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