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Iraqi base home to US troops comes under mortar attack north of Baghdad

This file picture shows a US-made F-16 fighter jet outside a hardened hangar at Balad Air Base, north of Baghdad, Iraq. (Photo by The Associated Press)

The Iraqi military says unknown militants have launched three mortar shells into an air base just north of the capital Baghdad, where American trainers are present.

The military said in a statement that the attack on Balad Air Base, located 64 kilometers (40 miles) north of Baghdad, took place early on Saturday and caused small fires in bushes on the base, The Associated Press reported.

The statement added that the projectiles did not cause any casualties, and the fires were extinguished immediately.

An Iraqi army general, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the assault occurred shortly after midnight Friday, adding that American trainers are stationed at the air base.

The attack comes only two days after the Iraqi satellite television channel Afaq TV, citing a report published by Arabic-language Ababeel news agency, said  several explosions had been heard near the US embassy in Baghdad’s heavily-fortified Green Zone.

The report said the diplomatic mission sounded sirens following the blasts, which rocked areas adjacent to its premises.

No official statement confirmed the report and no further details were released.

On May 19, two Iraqi security sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said an explosion had been heard in Baghdad’s Green Zone.

A source told Arabic-language Shafaaq news agency that the explosion was believed to have been caused by a Katyusha rocket slamming into the area.

The Green Zone is one of the world's most high-security institutional quarters. Located in the center of the Iraqi capital, it houses parliament, the prime minister's office, the presidency, other key institutions, top officials' homes and embassies.

The American embassy in Baghdad, the world's largest, lies within the fortified neighborhood, also known as the International Zone, which is surrounded by concrete walls.

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