The U.S. embassy compound in Baghdad was struck with seven mortar rounds on Friday, and U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria were targeted at least five more times with rockets and drones. Separate bases in Syria were attacked three times and the Ain al-Asad airbase west of Baghdad was targeted twice.
It was the highest number of attacks on U.S. forces in the Middle East region in a single day since the start of the Israel-Hamas war on Oct. 7. It was also the first time in more than a year that the U.S. embassy in Baghdad was targeted.
The Islamic Resistance in Iraq took responsibility for the attacks in a statement.
The Islamic Resistance in Iraq is an umbrella term for Iranian-backed radical Shi’ite militias in Iraq—Kata’ib Hezbollah, Harakat Hezbollah al Nujaba and Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhadaa.
Kata’ib Hezbollah claimed responsibility for the U.S. embassy compound attack. The terror group’s spokesman Abu Ali Alaskri declared that the rules of engagement against U.S. forces had changed, adding that the terror operations would continue until a full withdrawal of coalition forces.
The statement also called the U.S. embassy compound a “station for espionage and intelligence.”
Iranian-backed militia groups began attacking U.S. interests in the region after Washington gave backing to Israel’s war against Hamas in the wake of the terror group’s Oct. 7 assault on southern Israel.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin condemned Friday’s attacks during a call with Iraq’s Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani.
“The United States reserves the right to respond decisively against those groups,” Austin told Sudani, according to a Pentagon readout of the call, referring to Kata’ib Hezbollah and Harakat Hezbollah al Nujaba.