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US calls on Iraq's leaders to prevent attacks after rockets targeted Green Zone

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The United States embassy in Baghdad urged Iraq's leaders to work on preventing attacks on foreign targets in the country, after a rocket attack targeted the American embassy's compound in the Green Zone on Sunday.

Eight rockets targeted the US Embassy in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone late Sunday, Iraq's military and Iraqi officials said, sparking fears of renewed unrest as next month's anniversary of the US slaying of top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani draws near.

"The US Embassy confirms rockets targeting the International Zone resulted in the engagement of Embassy defensive systems. There was some minor damage on the Embassy compound but no injuries or casualties," the embassy said on Twitter.

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"We have received reports of damage to residential areas near the US Embassy and possibly some injuries to innocent Iraqi civilians. As we have said many times these sorts of attacks on diplomatic facilities are a violation of international law and are a direct assault on the sovereignty of the Iraqi government," it added.

"We call on all Iraqi political and governmental leaders to take steps to prevent such attacks and hold accountable those responsible."

The attack is the third on US military and diplomatic installations since a truce in October largely put an end to a year of rocket and roadside bomb attacks on foreign installations across Iraq.

The first, on November 17, saw a volley of rockets slam into the US embassy and various parts of the Iraqi capital, killing one young woman.

On December 10, two convoys transporting logistical equipment for the US-led coalition helping Iraqi troops fight jihadists were targeted with roadside bombs.

The attacks have been claimed by groups that both US and Iraqi officials have described as smokescreens for well-known Iran-aligned armed factions in Iraq.

Tensions have been high ahead of January 3 anniversary of the 2019 US drone strike in Baghdad that killed Soleimani and leading Iraqi paramilitary figure Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

The US diplomatic mission has already partially withdrawn its staff due to security concerns, two senior Iraqi officials told AFP earlier this month.

They described the move as a "minor drawdown based on security reservations from the US side," and said it was not a rupture of diplomatic ties.

Iraqi and Western officials see a turbulent few weeks ahead of the White House handover from President Donald Trump, who has pursued a "maximum pressure" policy against Iran that has also squeezed its allies next door in Iraq.

They did not rule out last-minute military action by the Trump administration on Iranian interests in Iraq, or a possible escalation by Iran-backed groups around Baghdad.

- With AFP

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