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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - WASHINGTON — The United States called on Iraq Sunday to protect American diplomatic facilities after the US embassy compound in Baghdad was hit by three rockets.
"We call on the Government of Iraq to fulfill its obligations to protect our diplomatic facilities," a State Department spokesperson said in a statement.
The attack marked a dangerous escalation in a spree of rocket attacks in recent months that have targeted the embassy or Iraqi military bases where American troops are deployed.
None of the attacks has been claimed, but Washington has repeatedly blamed Iran-backed military factions in Iraq.
On Sunday, one rocket hit an embassy cafeteria at dinner time while two others landed nearby, a security source told AFP.
"Since September there have been over 14 attacks by Iran and Iranian-supported militias on US personnel in Iraq," the State Department spokesperson said.
"The security situation remains tense and Iranian-backed armed groups remain a threat. So, we remain vigilant."
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi and Speaker of Parliament Mohammed Halbusi both condemned the incident, saying it risked dragging their homeland into war.
Iraq has already been dragged into a worrying tit-for-tat between the United States and Iran over the last month.
A similar attack on a northern Iraqi base killed an American contractor, and the US retaliated with a strike on an Iran-backed faction known as Kataeb Hezbollah.
Less than a week later, a US drone strike killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani outside the Baghdad airport — prompting Iran to fire ballistic missiles at an Iraqi base where US troops are stationed. — AFP
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