Blasts target US convoy in southern Iraq

Blasts target US convoys in Iraq as Washington threatens embassy shutdown
3 min read
28 September, 2020
A convoy transporting military equipment was hit by an IED on Sunday in Iraq's southern province of Dhi Qar.
The US-led coalition this summer began handing bases over to Iraqi forces [Getty]
A series of improvised explosive devices (IED) targeted logistical convoys of US-led coalition in Iraq as Washington threatened to shut its embassy in Baghdad. 

A convoy transporting military equipment was hit on Sunday in Iraq's southern province of Dhi Qar, Rudaw news agency reported.

The blast damaged one vehicle but as the convoy continued driving towards its destination it was targeted by a second IED, according to local reports which could not be verified.

"A convoy that was transporting international coalition equipment via Iraqi transport companies and drivers triggered an explosive device (IED) in Al-Batha district in Dhi Qar governorate," a statement by Iraqi Security Media Cell said. 

Rocket attacks targeting US positions and personnel in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone and elsewhere in the country have increased recently, following months of tensions between US and Iran.

Three Iraqi civilians were killed and two severely wounded Monday after a katyusha rocket hit near the vicinity of Baghdad airport, two Iraqi security officials said.

The rocket targeted the international airport but struck a residential home close by, two security officials said. They requested anonymity in line with regulations.

The US embassy in Baghdad beefed up its security on Sunday, adding that it will be running emergency procedure tests in the next two days.

"Communities in the areas surrounding the Embassy may hear alarms, sirens, and other noises as these drills are conducted," an embassy statement said.

Enraged by near-daily attacks on its interests in Iraq, Washington has threatened to close its embassy in Baghdad. In a new escalation, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Iraqi President Barham Saleh last week to deliver an ultimatum.

Unless Iraq's government puts an end to the rockets raining down on US military and diplomatic sites, Washington would shutter its embassy and recall its troops, the sources said.

The US still has hundreds of diplomats in its mission at the high-security Green Zone in Baghdad and around 3,000 troops based in three bases across the country.

Iraq has long been caught in a tug-of-war between its allies Iran and the US, rendered rockier by Washington's "maximum pressure" policy against Tehran since 2018.

Since 2019, dozens of rockets and improvised explosives have targeted these sites, with US and Iraqi officials blaming Tehran-backed factions including Kataeb Hezbollah

American and international forces are in Iraq as part of the global Coalition to combat the Islamic State group.

The terror group was declared militarily defeated in the country in 2017, but remains a threat, especially in regions disputed between Erbil and Baghdad.

The US-led coalition this summer began handing bases over to Iraqi forces and Washington is expected to withdraw some 2,200 from Iraq this month.

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