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Rockets, mortar shells hit Iraq’s Balad Air Base, Baghdad’s Green Zone: Sources

The file photo shows Iraqi security forces on a street leading to the heavily guarded Green Zone in Baghdad, Iraq. (By AFP)

The Green Zone of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, home to the US embassy, and the Balad Air Base, where US troops are stationed, have come under mortar shell and rocket attacks, respectively, police sources say.

On Saturday evening, at least two mortar shells targeted the Green Zone, a high-security enclave. One of them hit the Celebrations Square near the US diplomatic mission, unnamed security sources told AFP, adding that the other projectile landed close to the enclave.

Sirens immediately sounded at the American compound in the zone, which hosts both US diplomats and troops, they added.

At least two rockets, suspected to be of Katyusha type, fell in the Balad Air Base near the city of Samara in Salahuddin province, the sources further said, adding that surveillance drones were sent to locate the source of the rocket launch.

The attacks came just a day after a US airstrike assassinated Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy chief of the Iraqi pro-government Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), in the Iraqi capital. Four other Iranians and four more Iraqis in their company were also martyred.

The Pentagon said in a statement that President Donald Trump ordered the US military to assassinate the top Iranian commander. 

Iran has vowed a “harsh vengeance” against criminals behind Soleimani's assassination.

Additionally on Saturday, tens of thousands of people marched in Baghdad to mourn the loss of General Soleimani and Abu Mahdi.

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