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US Embassy in Erbil Activates Defense System

US Embassy in Erbil Activates Defense System

Thursday, 18 February, 2021 - 10:30
Broken glass is seen at the Bright Castle Motors building after reports of mortar shells landing near Erbil airport, in Erbil, Iraq (Reuters)

The US embassy in the Green Zone, central Baghdad, activated Wednesday its own air defense system without announcing the reason for this decision.


The system activation was accompanied by massive reconnaissance helicopters over the Green Zone and came after the missile attack on Erbil which killed one person and injured six US servicemen.


Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi and conveyed his outrage at the multiple rocket attacks in Erbil.


They discussed efforts underway to identify and hold accountable the groups responsible for the attacks, as well as the Iraqi government’s responsibility and commitment to protecting the US and Coalition personnel in Iraq at the government’s invitation to fight ISIS.


NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg discussed with Kadhimi increasing NATO presence in Iraq.


Kadhimi’s office said the two sides addressed the joint cooperation and ways to enhance it, especially with regard to providing support to the Iraqi security and military institutions in the areas of training and intelligence.


Meanwhile, the Kurdish parties and the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) exchanged accusations on the responsibility of the attack.


PMF leader in the northern axis, Ali al-Husseini, rejected what he described as "null" claims of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), saying that the missiles that targeted Erbil International Airport, were launched from Peshmerga’s areas of control.


PMF expert, Mohammed al-Basri indicated that a group calling itself “Saraya Awliya al-Dam” claimed responsibility for the attack, asserting that it is not affiliated with the Forces.


He described KDP's statement as “false accusations”, indicating that the Authority reserves the right to resort to the court against anyone accusing it without any evidence.


On Tuesday, KDP spokesman Mahmoud Mohammad warned of “grave consequences” if attacks in the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) area continue.


He condemned the “heinous terrorist act” and accused a faction affiliated with PMF of being behind the missile attacks on Erbil.


Mohammed called on the federal government, the international coalition, and the United States to immediately investigate the incident and prosecute the perpetrators.


For his part, military spokesman Yahya Rasoul told the official Iraqi news agency that 11 rockets were fired from inside the Kurdish region.


“The rockets were launched from two areas in Erbil, 5 kilometers from the city center,” he said.


“Four rockets fell inside the Erbil airport compound, while the rest hit residential areas.”


Rasoul emphasized that Iraq "will not accept becoming an arena for settling scores”.


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