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Iraqi PM unharmed after drone attack amid escalating tensions with Iran-backed militias

Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF). (Mahmoud Hosseini - Tasnim News/Released)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi survived an attack by an armed drone on his residence on November 7 amid escalating tensions over the refusal of Iran-backed militias to accept last month’s parliamentary election results.

The Baghdad residence inside the city’s fortified Green Zone was hit by a rocket attack early on November 7, the prime minister’s office said in a statement.

Kadhimi was unharmed in the attack, which the statement said was a “failed assassination attempt.”

The Green Zone is the location of Iraqi government buildings and embassies. The government statement provided no further details, and there was no claim of responsibility.

Kadhimi called in a tweet for “calm and restraint from everyone for the sake of Iraq.”

He later appeared on Iraqi television seated behind a desk and looking calm and composed.

“Cowardly rocket and drone attacks don’t build homelands and don’t build a future,” he said.

The United States condemned the attack.

“We are relieved to learn the prime minister was unharmed. This apparent act of terrorism, which we strongly condemn, was directed at the heart of the Iraqi state,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

“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,” he added.

In a briefing on November 7, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh condemned the attack and indirectly blamed the United States. He said to be aware of “the conspiracies that target the security and progress of Iraq,” without elaborating.

Several hundred supporters of pro-Iranian factions in Iraq have been protesting near one of the entrances to the Green Zone over the results of parliamentary elections on October 10. Fresh demonstrations were held earlier on November 6, a day after a protester was killed and dozens were injured in a clash with police.

The protesters reject the results of the elections, in which they were the biggest losers. They burned a portrait of Kadhimi, whom they called a “criminal,” at their November 6 demonstration.

Preliminary results from the elections saw the Fatah Alliance — the political arm of the pro-Iran multiparty Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary network — lose a substantial number of its parliamentary seats.

The group’s supporters have denounced the outcome as “fraud” and have been camping near the Green Zone for more than three weeks.