Iraqi Prime Minister addressing the nation after drone attack on his house. November 7, 2021

Drone Hits Iraqi Premier's Residence Amid Protests By Pro-Iran Forces

Sunday, 11/07/2021

Iraq's Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi survived an assassination attempt with armed drones that targeted his residence early Sunday but he is unharmed.

The attack was a major escalation amid tensions sparked by the refusal of Iran-backed militias to accept last month's parliamentary election results.

Two Iraqi officials told The Associated Press that seven of al-Kadhimi's security guards were injured in the attack with two armed drones which occurred in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone area. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to give official statements.

The Prime Minister was quick to respond on Twitter, “The rockets of treason will not shake one bit of the steadfastness and determination of the heroic security forces.” He added, “I am fine and among my people. Thank god."

Later he addressed the nation on television.

The US State Department condemned the attack and offered assistance with the investigation.

"This apparent act of terrorism, which we strongly condemn, was directed at the heart of the Iraqi state," spokesman Ned Price said in a statement. "We are in close touch with the Iraqi security forces charged with upholding Iraq’s sovereignty and independence and have offered our assistance as they investigate this attack."

Although no one has taken responsibility, suspicions will fall on Iran-backed militias after large protests on Friday against the results of the recent parliamentary elections. The incident can become a major embarrassment for Tehran.

Iran's top security official, Ali Shamkhani, condemned the attack, calling it "a new sedition". "The attempt ... is a new sedition that must be traced back to foreign think-tanks," he said on Twitter, without giving further details. It is not clear what he meant by foreign think-tanks.

A security official from the Iran-backed Kataib Hezbollah group in Iraq later dismissed suggestions that Iraqi groups were behind the attack.

"According to our confirmed information, no-one in Iraq has the desire to waste a drone on the house of a former prime minister," Abu Ali Al-Askari said on Telegram.

After the parliamentary elections once the new legislature convenes it should choose a prime minister, but for now Kadhimi continues to perform his duties.

Kataib Hezbollah and other Iran-aligned militias in Iraq are among the groups that are hostile to Kadhimi.

Saudi Arabia's foreign ministry said the kingdom condemns the attack on Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi in Baghdad early on Sunday, calling it a "cowardly terrorist act", Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya TV reported.

"It's premature now to say who carried out the attack," the security official on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to comment on security details. "We're checking our intelligence reports and waiting for initial investigation results to point the finger at perpetrators."

In a statement, the government said the drones tried to hit al-Kadhimi’s home. Residents of Baghdad heard the sound of an explosion followed by gunfire from the direction of the Green Zone, which houses foreign embassies and government offices.

The statement released by state-run media said the failed assassination attempt was with “an explosives-laden drone that tried to target his residence in the Green Zone.”

“The security forces are taking the necessary measures in connection with this failed attempt,” it said.

The drone attack comes amid a stand-off between security forces and pro-Iran Shiite militias whose supporters have been camped outside the Green Zone for nearly a month after they rejected the results of Iraq’s parliamentary elections in which they were the biggest losers.

Updated at 8:45 GMT

Reporting by AP and Reuters

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