Two Katyusha rockets reportedly fell inside the Green Zone of Baghdad on March 1, hours after Iraq’s Prime Minister-designate Mohammed Tafwiq Allawi announced the withdrawal of his candidacy. According to media reports, the rockets landed inside the heavily fortified compound close to the United States Embassy but no casualties have been reported.
US assets in Iraq has been continuously targeted by Katyusha rockets but none has claimed responsibility for such attacks. Washington has blamed Iran-backed groups for the attacks and even launched an offensive in January which killed Iranian top military commander Qassem Soleimani.
The ongoing conflict in Iraq has led to several anti-government protests across the country which also led to violent repression. Recently, a top United Nations representative to Iraq deplored the use of ‘hunting rifles’ on peaceful protesters saying the assistance mission is continuously receiving credible information regarding the issue.
Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Iraq, in a statement, said that she strongly condemns the use of hunting rifles with birdshot, causing high numbers of casualties during the recent protests. Hennis-Plasschaert called upon the authorities to prevent the use of force and hold people accountable who are responsible for the abuse of force.
“The continued pattern of the use of excessive force, with ambiguously identified armed groups and unclear loyalties, is a grave security concern that must be tackled urgently and decisively. Peaceful protesters should be protected at all times,” she said.
United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), in a press release, said that ‘hunting rifles’ were used on the road between Al Tahrir Square and Al Khilani Square. At least 50 people were reportedly injured in the crackdown between February 14 - February 16. According to UNAMI, security personnel also got injured in the incident which involved the use of pellets, stones, and Molotov cocktails.
“Allegations on the use of similar kinetic impact projectiles were received from Karbala as well, causing injuries to over 150 protesters in the month of January alone,” said the mission.
(With agency inputs)