US vows ‘calculated’ response to Baghdad rocket attacks

“What we will not do is lash out and risk an escalation that plays into the hands of Iran, and contributes to their attempts to further destabilise Iraq,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price said.
Tuesday 23/02/2021
Iraqi counterterrorism forces stand guard in front of the US Embassy in the capital Baghdad, January 2, 2020. (AFP)
Iraqi counterterrorism forces stand guard in front of the US Embassy in the capital Baghdad, January 2, 2020. (AFP)

WASHINGTON--The United States said on Monday it was outraged by rocket attacks on coalition forces and others in Iraq but stressed it would not “lash out” and would respond at a time and place of its choosing.

“We have seen the reports of the rocket fire today … as you heard us say in the aftermath of the tragic attack in Erbil, we are outraged by the recent attacks,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.

Most attacks cause no casualties but the latest rocket attack on Monday was the third in Iraq in just over a week to target Green Zone areas that host US troops, diplomats or contractors.

Price said the United States was still determining who was behind last week’s attack on the Erbil International Airport compound that killed a contractor working with US forces at the military base on the compound.

“When it comes to our response, we will respond in a way that’s calculated within our own timetable and using a mix of tools at a time and place of our choosing,” Price said of the Erbil attack. “What we will not do is lash out and risk an escalation that plays into the hands of Iran, and contributes to their attempts to further destabilise Iraq.”

At least two rockets struck Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone on Monday without causing any casualties, Iraq’s army said in a statement. Security officials said the US Embassy was the target.

Baghdad map (AFP)

Two Iraqi security officials said three rockets struck the Green Zone, one falling within the perimeters of the vast US Embassy complex. They spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

A statement from the military said there were no casualties and that an investigation was ongoing. There was minor property damage, including a damaged vehicle. The Green Zone houses foreign embassies and is the seat of Iraq’s government.

It was the third attack to target the American presence in Iraq in a week. A US-led coalition contractor was killed and other civilians were wounded in a rocket attack outside Erbil International Airport last Tuesday. On Saturday, rockets wounded personnel working for a US defense company at Balad airbase in Salahaddin province.

The US Embassy was a frequent target of rocket attacks during the Trump administration. The pace of attacks abated in the weeks before Biden took office and recently resumed.