Iraqi PM says he will 'expose' those behind drone attack

Iraqi PM says he will 'expose' those behind drone attack
Iraq's PM said the individuals behind Sunday's drone attack on his life were known and that he would expose them.
3 min read
08 November, 2021
Iraq's PM called for 'calm and restraint' after a drone attack on his residence in Baghdad's Green Zone [source: Getty]

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi said, after chairing a security meeting on Sunday, that those behind an attempt on his life were well known and would be exposed.

"We will pursue those who committed yesterday's crime, we know them well and we will expose them," he said according to a statement from the prime minister's office.

Kadhemi escaped unhurt from an "assassination attempt" in which an explosives-packed drone hit his Baghdad residence early Sunday, marking a new escalation in the country's post-election turmoil.

US President Joe Biden condemned the "terrorist attack" and said he was "relieved" Kadhemi was not injured, while Iraqi President Barham Saleh said it was an attempted "coup against the constitutional system".

Kadhemi, 54, and in power since May 2020, appealed for "calm and restraint" before chairing a meeting at his office in the high-security Baghdad Green Zone, where the overnight attack took place.

Three drones were launched from near a Tigris River bridge but two were intercepted, said security sources, adding that two bodyguards were wounded.

Gunfire rang out and smoke rose from the Green Zone after the strike.

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Photos issued by Kadhemi's office showed debris strewn on the ground below a damaged exterior stairway and a door that had been dislodged.

Kadhemi said in a short video that "my residence has been the target of a cowardly assault. Praise God, I am fine."

The attack came two days after security forces clashed with supporters of Iran-backed parties that lost support in the October 10 parliament election. 

The Conquest (Fatah) Alliance, the political arm of the pro-Iran Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary network, suffered a substantial decline in seats - leading it to denounce the outcome as "fraud".

After the drone attack, Qais al-Khazali, the head of Assaib Ahl al-Haq, one of the main pro-Iran groups of the Hashed, called for the perpetrators to be "brought to justice".

The United States has around 2,500 troops in the country, and Biden said he instructed his national security team "to offer all appropriate assistance to Iraq's security forces as they investigate this attack and identify those responsible."

NATO, as well as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, "strongly condemned" the attack, while the European Union said the perpetrators "must be held accountable".

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on Iraqis "to exercise utmost restraint and reject all violence and any attempts to destabilise Iraq".

Iran urged "vigilance to foil plots aimed at the security and development" of Iraq, said foreign ministry spokesman Said Khatibzadeh.

He directed blame at the US, which led the 2003 invasion of Iraq that toppled Saddam Hussein and kicked off years of sectarian conflict. 

"Such incidents are in the interest of those who have violated the stability, security, independence and territorial integrity of Iraq over the past 18 years," said Khatibzadeh.

"They have sought to achieve their sinister regional goals by creating terrorist groups that seek to cause sedition."

Condemnation also poured in from regional powerhouse Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, as well as neighbours Jordan and Syria, and the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq.

Moqtada Sadr, an influential Shia Muslim preacher whose political movement was the big election winner, condemned the drone attack as "against Iraq and the Iraqi people".

Analyst Renad Mansour of the Chatham House think tank said the attack was "clearly linked to the government formation process".