Sporadic Mortar Attacks Rain Down On Baghdad
LINDA WERTHEIMER, Host:
Mortars have been raining down on Baghdad for the past few days. The target is almost always the heavily fortified Green Zone, where the U.S. embassy is located. Iraqi and American officials say the attacks are being carried out by Shiite militiamen trained in Iran. NPR's Kelly McEvers reports from Baghdad.
KELLY MCEVERS: Unidentified Man: Duck and cover. Get away from the window.
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MCEVERS: So far no injuries have been reported in this week's attacks. U.S. ambassador Jim Jeffrey says up to a quarter of all American casualties here can be attributed to Iranian-trained groups that want to destabilize Iraq.
JIM JEFFREY: It's a low cost option for insurgents and terrorists, particularly those that we believe are supported, one way or the other, by Iran. Nonetheless, we have good systems to deter it, to spot them, to give us alarms, and they're not going to stand us down.
MCEVERS: Baker and other commanders say two groups in particular, the Promise Day Brigade and Kataeb Hezbollah, recently were trained and equipped by an elite unit of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps.
RALPH BAKER: We know that the Iranians continue to supply the Iranian surrogate groups like Promise Day Brigade and Kataeb Hezbollah with equipment, supplies, and direction.
MCEVERS: Baker says U.S. and Iraqi forces have found both mortars and rockets they say were supplied by this Iranian unit.
BAKER: You tend to hear about the rocket attacks. What you don't hear about are the number of cache sites with rockets that they take off the streets every day, and the number of rockets that they actually disarm before they fire into Baghdad.
MCEVERS: The US military has changed the name of its mission here, from combat to advise, assist, train, and equip. But Baker says the U.S. military still retains the right to defend itself.
BAKER: We can come outside of our bases and deny points of origin and locations that insurgents use to attack us with indirect fire. We still retain the ability to be preemptive if we have intelligence that there's an imminent threat against U.S. forces. So I just want to be clear about that.
MCEVERS: Kelly McEvers, NPR News, Baghdad.
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WERTHEIMER: This is NPR News.
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