Source AP ©

Pattern of attacks increase against Green Zone

The U.S. military acknowledged "an increasing pattern of attacks" against the Green Zone, a day after a mortar barrage against the heavily fortified ara sent soldiers and contractors scrambling for cover.

Militants fired a volley of mortars into the Green Zone, which houses the U.S. and British embassies as well as Iraqi government houses on the west bank of the Tigris River, officials said Tuesday. The U.S. Embassy said no casualties were reported, but the attack was the latest in what has become a nearly daily occurrence despite stringent security measures aimed at protecting the area.

Rear Adm. Mark Fox, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, declined to provide details on the number of attacks against the Green Zone, which is also known as the International Zone, but said they were increasing.

"It's clear that there is an attempt to get lucky shots and there is unquestionably an increasing pattern of attacks here against the International Zone. There's no doubt about that," Fox said at a joint news conference with Iraqi military spokesman Qassim al-Moussawi.

Al-Moussawi said the attacks were coming from inside residential areas, causing difficulties in responding to them because of concern about civilian casualties.

"They are fired from mobile launchers from inside residential areas. The multinational forces, through satellites and aerial pictures, have the abilities to directly respond to the places from which these rockets are being fired," he said. "The main obstacle is that they are being launched from residential areas. This exposes the citizens to big casualties and leaves great material damage."

He said security forces were receiving daily information about the location of the launching pads.

The U.S. Embassy said about a dozen explosions hit the Green Zone, although it could not confirm whether they were rockets or mortars. An embassy spokesman, Armand Cucciniello, said no casualties were reported but he could not provide any information about damages.

U.S. soldiers and American contractors in the vicinity of the PX said a building near the store was hit. The PX is an area where military personnel and others can buy goods.

A security official working in Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's office also said one shell landed in the garden of the home of Human Rights Minister Wijdan Mikaeil. Two shells fell short of their Green Zone target, with one hitting Abu Nwas Street near the Jumhuriya Bridge and a second crashed into the Tigris River. One mortar shell landed meters (yards) from home of Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh.

A U.N. report June 5 said insurgents had bombarded the Green Zone with rockets and mortar fire more than 80 times since March, reportedly killing at least 26 people.