Tensions Remain High

Jan 7, 2020

As of 6 January 2020, tensions remain high in Iraq following the U.S. government’s targeted killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis on 3 January.

On 4 January two rockets landed in the capital Baghdad’s Green Zone near the U.S. Embassy complex. The first rocket struck near Grand Festivities Square and the second in the al-Jadriyah district, located near the presidential complex. At least five people were injured in the al-Jadriyah district. The explosions prompted security forces to close the road to the embassy as a safety precaution. Meanwhile, at least four Katyusha rockets landed within the perimeter of Balad Air Base (ORBD/OR9), located approximately 65 km (40 mi) north of Baghdad. At least three people were injured at the base, which hosts a number of U.S. military personnel.

Additionally, on 4 January NATO officials announced the suspension of their counterterrorism training program, fearing for the safety of their personnel. The U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) updated its travel advice for Iraq and urged against all travel to Iraq with the exception of the Kurdistan region, where it advises against all non-essential travel.

In a related development, on 5 January the Iraqi parliament voted during an emergency session to cancel the country’s request for assistance from a U.S-led military coalition operating against the Islamic State (IS), in a nonbinding resolution. The proposed draft resolution would expel foreign troops from the country in addition to preventing them from using Iraqi airspace and waterways. An official vote is scheduled to take place on 11 January.

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