Unconfirmed reports claim an explosion, possibly from a rocket impact, has been heard in Baghdad's Green Zone on Saturday, January 4, targeting the US Embassy. Further details were not immediately reported.
Tensions will likely escalate in Iraq, particularly in Baghdad, over the near term. Heightened security measures are anticipated throughout the capital, including at Baghdad International Airport (BGW), over the coming hours. Further attacks targeting US personnel and assets are also possible.
The US Department of Defense released a statement on January 3, claiming responsibility for an airstrike targeting Qasem Soleimani, the commander of Iran's Quds Force, near Baghdad International Airport (BGW) during the early morning hours on Friday. According to the statement, Soleimani was "actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region." Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), was also killed in the strike along with six other individuals. The situation remains fluid.
Individuals in Baghdad are advised to closely monitor developments, avoid the affected area, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments.
The security environment in Iraq remains complex. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to all travel.