A rocket was fired into Iraq’s capital of Baghdad on Sunday evening, landing less than a mile from the U.S. Embassy, according to a report.
The rocket did not cause any casualties, according to the Associated Press, citing Iraq’s state-run news agency. It came just days after the U.S. embassy in Baghdad evacuated non-essential personnel amid alleged threats from Iran against U.S. troops and civilian employees in Iraq.
It was also the first apparent attack since September, according to the AP.
The U.S. military spokesman for U.S. Central Command confirmed an “explosion” outside of the U.S. Embassy compound.
“We are aware of an explosion in the International Zone (Green Zone) outside of the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad on May 19. There were no U.S. or coalition casualties, and Iraqi Security Forces are investigating the incident,” said Navy Capt. Bill Urban.
The rocket was believed to have been fired from east Baghdad, which is home to Iran-backed Shiite militia, according to the news wire.
A rocket launcher was discovered by security forces in the eastern neighborhood of Wihda, a security official told the AP.
Al-Hurra TV correspondent Steven Nabil tweeted a photo of the alleged launcher:
Breaking: The rocket launch pad used to launch a rocket against the Green zone in Baghdad tonight targeting the U.S Embassy. This was placed jn the service road in front of the Technological university in Baghdad pic.twitter.com/yPGxWdxL9i
— Steven nabil (@thestevennabil) May 19, 2019
There are approximately 5,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, ordered there by the Obama administration after the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) gained a foothold in the country in 2014.
U.S. officials have sounded the alarm on potential threats posed to them by Iranian or Iranian-backed forces in Iraq who worked to help defeat ISIS but could potentially be turned against U.S. forces.
Tensions between the U.S. and Iran have risen in recent weeks amid a U.S. pressure campaign on Iran to come back to the negotiating table on its nuclear program. President Donald Trump exited the Iran deal approximately a year ago, in May 2018. Last month, the administration ended waivers to countries who have not yet stopped importing oil from Iran.
Shortly after, administration officials warned they were picking up intelligence about Iranian threats to U.S. forces in the Middle East.
Secretary of State Michael Pompeo visited Iraq on a surprise trip with reporters, including one from Breitbart News.
During his visit, he met with Iraq’s prime minister and president and discussed weaning Iraq off of Iran’s natural resources and keeping U.S. personnel safe in the country.