Rockets hit the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on Friday morning inside the international Green Zone, but there were no casualties, an embassy spokesperson told the Reuters news agency.
Iranian-linked militias based in Iraq are believed to have launched the missiles, the spokesperson said, but no group immediately claimed responsibility.
In video from the scene in the Iraqi capital, a computerized voice can be heard on loudspeakers at the embassy saying “Take cover, await further instructions,” as explosions ring out.
The attack is the first against the embassy since an umbrella group of Iran-aligned Shi’ite Muslim militias fired on U.S. forces on military bases in Iraq and Syria in mid-October.
Iraq’s prime minister ordered his security services to catch the attackers, calling them “unruly, lawless groups that do not in any way represent the will of the Iraqi people,” a statement from his office said.
Explosions were heard near the embassy, in the Green Zone in Baghdad’s center, at about 4 a.m. on Friday.
The U.S. has about 2,500 troops in Iraq advising and assisting local forces to prevent a return of Islamic State fighters, and the U.S. Embassy spokesperson said the U.S. “reserve[s] the right” to defend itself against attacks.
The U.S.-based Institute for The Study of War said in a note issued shortly before the embassy attack that Iranian-backed groups in Iraq are taking advantage of the Israel-Hamas war to try to expel US forces from Iraq.
“Forcing the removal of the US military is one of Iran’s most important strategic objectives in the Middle East,” the group wrote.
“The dozens of Iranian-backed militia attacks on US military positions in recent weeks have been meant to impose a cost on the United States for supporting Israel while also eroding American willingness to remain militarily in Iraq and Syria,” it added.
It said that Iran and its allies are operating on the theory that “relatively low levels of militant pressure gradually diminish the willingness” of the U.S. to keep troops in the Middle East.