September 23, 2019 / 9:06 PM / 24 days ago

Rockets fired in central Baghdad, U.S. coalition warns against attacks

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Two rockets were fired on Monday at central Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone, which houses foreign embassies and government buildings, but there were no casualties and no damage was caused, security services said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blasts. One rocket exploded inside the Green Zone and another landed in the Tigris river, a statement from Iraqi security services said.

The U.S.-led coalition that helps fight Islamic State militants in Iraq and has a headquarters near the area hit said it would not tolerate any attacks on its personnel, in an unusually strong statement regarding security incidents in Iraq.

It said no “U.S.-occupied facility” was hit but that it would defend itself in such an event. It did not blame the attack on any group.

In May, a rocket fired from eastern Baghdad landed in the area close to the U.S. embassy, and was also not claimed. Such incidents have been rare but sporadic in the Iraqi capital in recent years.

Iraq, whose main allies are Washington and Tehran, fears it could be caught in the middle of any regional conflict between Iran and the United States. It hosts both U.S. troops and paramilitary groups loyal to Tehran.

The United States has blamed Iran for recent attacks including on oil installations in Saudi Arabia this month, which Iran denies. Both countries say they do not want war.

The United States blamed Iranian-backed paramilitary groups for attacks on military bases hosting U.S. troops in May. There was no public comment on those attacks from the militias.

Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed and John Davison; Editing by Chris Reese, Rosalba O'Brien and Bernadette Baum

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