On January 8, three Katyusha rockets fell inside Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, inside of which are US government buildings and foreign missions.
According to the Iraqi military, the rockets caused a fire but no casualties have been reported.
One of the rockets fell just under 100 yards from the US embassy. The rockets landed a day after Iran fired more than a dozen missiles at Iraqi bases housing US troops.
Retaliation expected from Shiite militants despite deescalation efforts
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army General Mark Milley, said on January 8 that he “fully expects” that militia groups with ties to Iran will “conduct terrorist operations against US forces and coalition forces in Iraq and perhaps even elsewhere.”
When asked by reporters if Iran has finished retaliating for the killing of General Soleimani, Milley responded that it was still “too early to tell.”
Defense Secretary Mark Esper has said that proxy groups directed by Iran may carry out attacks on US military bases. Esper also said that among the challenges the US faces will be to “sort through that, understand, who’s doing it, who’s motivating it.”
What is the Green Zone?
The Green Zone is the most common name for the International Zone of Baghdad. It is a 10 square kilometer area in the Karkh district in central Baghdad, Iraq’s capital city. The Green Zone is also where the embassies and consulates of the US and several other western countries are located.
After their invasion of Iraq in 2003, US-led forces closed this area off to the Iraqi public and it has been largely viewed as a safe location, despite frequently being the target of rocket attacks.
The contrasting Red Zone refers to parts of Baghdad immediately outside the perimeter, but the term is also applied to all unsecured areas outside of off-site military posts.
Both terms originated as military designations.
Attacks in the Green Zone
There have been numerous rocket attacks on the Green Zone and the area surrounding it in recent weeks due to heightened tensions between the US and Iran.
On December 31, an Iranian-backed militia group tried to burn down the US embassy in Baghdad during a protest in response to five US airstrikes in Iraq and Syria on December 29.
On December 31, Iraqi security forces allowed militias to enter the Green Zone to protest, during which damage was reported at the US embassy.