Despite another bizarre claim by an Iraqi official of a great victory against militants around Baghdad, several explosions were heard in Baghdad’s heavily fortified and strategic Green Zone on October 21. Local sources say two mortar shells fired by militants exploded several hundred meters from the massive US Embassy compound, located inside the zone. Other sources say up to five blasts were heard. Regardless, there were no reports of any casualties or damage.
The American period in Iraq saw frequent barrages against the Green Zone. Less fire occurred in recent years. Since September, however, there have been several reported instances of shelling targeting the Green Zone. Although the district is also the home of the Iraqi government, the American Embassy is surely a prime target for militants. It is also what grabs the headlines. With that in mind, the increased frequency of attacks may point to a concerted effort to target the compound as retaliation for US-led coalition operations against the Islamic State (IS).
However, such efforts will not be so easy. While Sunni insurgents certainly have an interest to target the Green Zone by utilizing their preferred tactic of coordinating suicide attacks and car bombs against a specific target, the zone’s perimeter is heavily fortified. Such attacks undoubtedly remain a threat given IS’ ability to launch daily attacks in Baghdad, the Green Zone’s defenses hinder the chances of a successful infiltration. This situation increasingly necessitates the less effective use of indirect fire, witnessed this evening. Militants aim to both intensify pressure in the capital and target American interests in Iraq. Therefore, more rocket or mortar fire against the Green Zone is possible in the coming weeks.