Two rockets fired near US embassy in Iraq’s Baghdad: Security source

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Two rockets were fired early Thursday against Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone which houses the US embassy, without causing any casualties or damage, an Iraqi security source told AFP.

One rocket landed in a parking lot inside the Green Zone and a second one hit a nearby empty area, said the sources.

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The Green Zone hosts foreign embassies and government buildings and is regularly the target of rockets fired by groups that US and Iraqi officials say are backed by Iran.

The dawn attack came as Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi was flying home from Washington after White House talks in which President Joe Biden announced an end to US combat operations in Iraq.

Attacks on US interests in Iraq had been launched almost daily in recent months, blamed on pro-Iran armed groups within the security apparatus.

But they had died down in the weeks running up to Kadhimi’s Washington visit during which he had faced pressure from hardliners to secure a firm withdrawal date for all remaining US troops.

There had been just one attack since the first week of July, a Saturday drone strike targeting an air base in Iraqi Kurdistan, which also caused no casualties or damage.

Biden said US relations with Iraq would enter a new phase with American troops exiting combat operations in the country by year-end.

Amid the threat of resurgence of ISIS and Iran’s powerful influence in Baghdad, Biden stressed that Washington remains “committed to our security cooperation” while Kadhimi reaffirmed the two countries’ “strategic partnership.”

But, in a shift that comes as the United States pulls out of Afghanistan, the US leader confirmed that the 2,500 US troops still in Iraq won’t be fighting by year-end.

His announcement was welcomed by the Conquest Alliance, the political wing of Iraq’s Hashed-al-Shaabi paramilitary network, which is dominated by pro-Iran groups, but not by hardline factions which fear the change will be purely nominal.

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