Two women and three children were killed when two Katyusha rockets struck a residential area near Baghdad airport on Monday, Iraq’s military has said, in what were the first civilian casualties in months from attacks in the city.
The rockets apparently targeted the airport but ended up hitting a nearby home, which was completely destroyed. Besides the five fatalities, two children were also severely wounded in the attack.
The strike came from the Iraqi capital’s al-Jihad neighborhood, the military said in a statement. It described the incident as a “cowardly crime” by “gangs” looking to sow chaos and to terrorize the population.
Iraqi PM Mustafa al-Kadhimi has ordered that those who fired the rockets be brought to justice, the statement read.
Rocket attacks have intensified in Iraq in recent weeks, targeting the US embassy in Baghdad, American troops and the airport.
Washington has blamed Shia militias with links to Iran, who have intensified their activities after Tehran’s top military commander, Qassem Soleimani, was assassinated in a US drone strike outside Baghdad airport in January.
The deteriorating security situation has prompted the US to threaten to shut down its Baghdad embassy altogether if Iraqi authorities won’t deal with the militias.
Preparations for the withdrawal of diplomatic staff were being made at the US mission in Baghdad over the weekend, American and Iraqi sources told Reuters.
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