At approximately 20:40 on 20 December, local sources reported an indirect fire attack against the International Zone in central Baghdad city. The C-RAM rocket defense system at the US Embassy was activated. Initial reports suggested that the attack comprised of up to five rockets, with three impacting in the Qadisiyah area, one in Jadiriyah and one on the riverbank. The Security Media Cell later identified eight rockets were launched towards the IZ, impacting against a number of buildings in the Qadisiyah Residential Complex.
The SMC statement added that two rockets impacted apartment number 6 on the 1st floor of 1st building, the 2nd rocket landed in the 3rd building, 1st floor, 1st apartment, while the 3rd rocket landed in the same building on 7th floor. The 4th rocket landed in front of the 26th building, while the 5th rocket impacted in front of the 18th building. The 6th rocket impacted near the 14th building and the internal marketplace, and the 7th rocket landed near one of the lakes. The 8th rocket reportedly landed near one of the checkpoints. The statement confirmed that the rocket resulted in the injury of an Iraqi soldier and caused material damage to the buildings. As many as 14 civilian vehicles, an electricity generator and a caravan were also reportedly damaged.
The point of origin was identified in the Camp Rashid area, approximately 8 km south-west of the International Zone in southern Baghdad city. Two rocket launcher platforms originally containing up to 12 rockets, were somewhat consistent with reports by PMF-affiliated social media accounts, citing claims of 11 rockets launched.
A subsequent statement on the US Embassy Facebook page confirmed the attack, stating that some minor damage to the Embassy compound resulted, while denying any injuries or casualties occurred on the compound. The statement noted potential casualties amongst the civilian population and called on “Iraqi political and governmental leaders to take steps to prevent such attacks and hold accountable those responsible.” Additional unofficial sources reported impacts near the Embassy Dining Facility and near the east gate of the embassy compound.
Later in the evening, a convoy of Saraya al-Salam PMF was reportedly deployed in the vicinity of IZ to protect the US Embassy, after Muqtada al-Sadr released a tweet calling to protect the embassy. As anticipated, heightened security postures have been noted in central Baghdad, with such measures likely to continue in the immediate future.
For further discussion and analysis please see the full report.