Iraq 'taking security measures' to prevent US embassy closure
Iraq's Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein has announced that his country has rallied efforts to stop the US from closing its Baghdad embassy, after Donald Trump's administration threatened to withdraw its diplomats if persistent rocket attacks continued.
Speaking in a televised interview with Al-Iraqiya channel late on Monday, Hussein said "US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo notified Iraqi President Barham Salih of Trump administration's concern over the increased attacks on its mission and the airport, and expressed concern over the security situation".
Hussein pointed out that the "withdrawal of US embassy staff will affect Iraq's relations with other European and Arab missions" and lead to a "lack of confidence in Iraq".
He said that the attacks, blamed on pro-Iran militias, have targeted not only the US embassy but also the Iraqi people as well.
Hussein added that the Iraqi government has taken a "number of security, political and diplomatic measures to stop the attacks on the Green Zone and the Baghdad airport", pledging "tangible positive results in the near future".
Read also: Iraq to establish special force to protect Green Zone amid continued threat to US embassy
Between October 2019 and July this year in Iraq, around 40 rocket attacks have targeted the US embassy or bases housing US troops.
In the space of just two months, 40 attacks have taken place, targeting not only the embassy and military bases, but also the supply convoys of Iraqi contractors for Washington and its allies.
Recent attacks have mostly been claimed by little known factions among the array of Shia armed groups equipped and trained by neighbouring Iran during the war against the US, and later, the Islamic State group.
The armed groups have been locked in a tug-of-war with Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhemi, who is seen as more pro-American than some of his predecessors.
Underlining the risks, a rocket attack targeting Baghdad airport hit a nearby home last week, killing five children and two women from the same family.
The US still has hundreds of diplomats in its mission in the high-security Green Zone in Baghdad and around 3,000 troops based in three bases across the country.
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