May 19, 2007

Green Zone Attack Statistics

Updated August 9, 2007

How common are rocket and mortar attacks on the Green Zone? Far more common than the impression given by the establishment media.

Editor's Note:

When I first created this blog entry I wondered whether or not the source of my statistics, the english-speaking establishment media for the most part, were effectively reporting on Green Zone Attacks. I'm aware, for example, that Iraq Body Count's excess death inventory, based on similar sources, significantly under reports the actual figure, now estimated by independent sources to be about one million.

My concern has been echoed in a comment by "Contractor" to this blog entry. He suggests that this blog entry significantly under-reports the actual cases of Green Zone attacks:
you have nothing between June 1 and 14 Oct 2004. I can vouch that between July 20th and October 14th...we had Mortars come in almost every single day. One day we had something like 30 and the following evening another 10.

He continues...

In the entire month of September 2004, everyone put on their vests at 1830 ecause the rounds started coming in around 1900 to 1930 every night.

"Contractor's" experience is verified in a November 2004 Atlantic Monthly piece by William Langewiesche. Langewiesche writes:

On October 14 [2004] the Turkish embassy was bombed, and one person died. Mortar attacks on the Green Zone, until recently unheard of, were suddenly on the rise.

He continues,

There was talk of "sleepers" in the slums on the inside [of the Green Zone]. Even the Iraqis working for the CPA were suspect. Palace defenses, already strong, were made stronger still, so that the Palace became the Green Zone's Green Zone, as it remains today. A "town hall" meeting was called to allay fears, but it had the opposite effect. Work was disrupted. Mortars and rockets came in every night now, almost all of them falling into the Green Zone's open spaces. One of the biggest rockets landed in the Palace parking lot and took out twenty-six cars, mostly SUVs.

Langewiesche gives more insight with several more comments about mortar attacks, like the following:

Like the bombings in the city, the mortaring of the Green Zone occurred in distinct phases over time, whether in the mornings, or evenings, or late at night. Rockets were relatively rare. But the mortar attacks were so predictable at any given time that people working in the safety of the heavy-roofed Palace had office pools going on when the rounds would come in.

Original Posting:

So, how common are attacks on the Green Zone (AKA International Zone) in Iraq. According to Charles Gibson of ABC News, as of May 19, the Green Zone has been attacked 64 times since the surge began (64 attacks in 12 weeks). [1] It's not clear whether this means 64 days or 64 incidents.

My on-going count identifies 29 days in which the Green Zone was attacked since October 2003, tallied below. (obviously, an under estimate).

We just heard of another one during Blair's visit. We heard that a "blast in Baghdad struck about 6:25 p.m., just half an hour before Cheney's wrap-up news conference. It appeared to strike in the vicinity of the heavily fortified Green Zone."[2] According to a GlobalSecurity article on the Green Zone, the first attack on it was October 27, 2003, when three rockets were shot at the Al-Rashid hotel in which Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was staying.

We hear about these notable attacks when a major dignitary visiting. What about the attacks that occur when a dignitary isn't visiting? (Not commonly reported, at least mortars and rocket attacks).

I include videos of the April 12, 2007 cafeteria bombing and a car bombing in a recent blog entry, How Long Can US Hang on in Iraq? In that essay I quote former CIA analyst and White House briefer, Ray McGovern, saying the US won't be able to hold onto it's bases in Iraq for more than a year or two.

Another sign of the erosion of Green Zone security was included in a May 10, 2007 DemocracyNow! headline news piece:

Meanwhile in Baghdad, the U.S. embassy has ordered all staff to wear flak jackets and helmets while outdoors in the Green Zone. The order comes following a wave of recent rocket attacks. The Green Zone is one of Iraq’s most heavily-guarded areas.

The new order came after a May 3 mortar assault that killed four foreign US embassy workers. The attack was at least the third straight day the Green Zone was attacked, according to HeraldNet.

Aside from being a foreign occupying force, walling itself off from an increasingly dismal Iraqi society, the US has a another disadvantage in selecting the Green Zone location. It housed Saddam Hussein's main presidential palace prior to the 2003 invasion, thus representing a psychological symbol to some of the attackers.

Here's an informal Tally of Attacks on the Green Zone:

Note: Many rocket and mortar attacks occur that don't seem to be reported in the establishment media, my primary source. As described in the "Editor's Note," above, this tally is certain to significantly under count the incidents of Green Zone attacks.

October 27, 2003, Al-Rashid Hotel hit while Paul Wolfowitz was visiting. Considered the first attack on the Green Zone according to GlobalSecurity article.

May 17, 2004 A suicide car bomb in Baghdad kills the head of Iraq's Governing Council Abdul-Zahra Othman Mohammad, a prominent Shi'ite politician from Basra also known as Izzedin Salim. More than a dozen others were also killed in the blast at the gates of the fortified Green Zone in Baghdad.

June 1, 2004 The second car bomb exploded outside an entrance to the U.S.-led coalition headquarters compound in Baghdad. The U.S. military said three Iraqis were killed and 20 wounded near the area known as the "Green Zone."

October 14, 2004 Two suicide bombers penetrate the highly guarded green zone in Baghdad and detonate bombs in their backpacks. 5 (updated to 10) are killed, 4 of them Americans. 20 others are wounded. US State Department spokesperson Richard Baucher said, "It's not the first time that there have been attacks on the Green Zone. Most of the previous attacks have been mortars and things like that." "You'll also remember it's not -- that there was a explosive device that was found in the so-called Green Zone Cafe not too long ago as well." [Link]

October 27, 2004 The first day of Ramadan, four car bombings took place in Baghdad, including the headquarters of the International Red Cross. The Green Zone was mortared.

December 4, 2004 Two car bombs killed sixteen people and wounded 38 others when they exploded at an entrance to Baghdad's fortified Green Zone.

January 29, 2005
A rocket hit the U.S. Embassy compound inside Baghdad's fortified Green Zone, killing two people and wounding at least four. According to the embassy spokesman, all of them are Americans.

July 14, 2005 We woke today to the muted sounds of thumps and booms. One big one, followed by a smaller one. Then mortars flew over our home. It was another attack on the Green Zone, and it killed two people. The first explosion was a car bomb that hit the fortified complex's entrance that civilians, journalists and even National Assembly members often use to get inside. The second boom was a suicide bomber who rushed into the crowd that gathered following the first explosion and blew himself up.

April 23, 2006 Seven Iraqis died when three mortars hit just outside the heavily guarded Green Zone in the capital, not far from Iraq's Defense Ministry. Police Lt. Maitham Abdul-Razzaq said it was hard to identify the seven dead because the powerful blasts and shrapnel severed their limbs and destroyed their identification cards.

April 28, 2006
Two mortars or rockets were fired at downtown Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, where Iraq's government meets and the U.S. Embassy is located.

November 22, 2006 A bomb exploded in an armored car among those belonging to the speaker of Iraq's parliament, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani wounding the American security guard who was driving it out of a parking area in the government Green Zone.

January 25, 2007 Two mortars bring Green Zone under assault. The U.S. military said six people had been wounded, five of them slightly, but little damage was caused to buildings.

March 22, 2007 Insurgents attempt to assassinate United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during his visit in Baghdad. The rocket attack caused no injuries but rattled the heavily guarded Green Zone. It struck right after Prime Minister al-Maliki, standing next to Ban, had finished telling reporters that Ban's visit was a sign that Iraq was on the road to stability.

March 23, 2007 A suicide bomber passed through security checkpoints undetected on 23 March and was able to detonate his belt next to Salam Zikam Ali al-Zubaie, Iraq's deputy prime minister, as he left afternoon prayers. Nine people were killed although, remarkably, Mr Zubaie survived.

March 27, 2007 A U.S. soldier was killed and another wounded from indirect fire -- a term usually used for mortars or rockets -- in Baghdad's heavily fortified international Green Zone on Tuesday, the U.S. military said. A U.S. government contractor was killed as a result of a rocket attack on the Green Zone on Tuesday, the U.S. embassy said in a statement.

April 12, 2007, Iraqi Parliament cafeteria hit by suicide bomber invasion, killing at least 26 and injuring 54.

Monday, April 30, 2007 (See May 1)

Tuesday, May 1, 2007 (See May 3) Mortar rounds slammed into the U.S.-controlled Green Zone on Tuesday, with one striking within 100 yards of the Iraqi prime minister's offices, a government official said. No casualties were reported. It was the second attack against the Green Zone in 12 hours. The first round of explosions occurred at about 10 p.m. Monday and another round struck at about 10 a.m. Tuesday.

May 2, 2007 (See May 3)

May 3, 2007, four Filipino contractors working for the American government are killed in a rocket attack. The deadly incident was at least the third straight day the Green Zone was attacked, according to the HeraldNet

May 9, 2007 Cheney spoke less than an hour after an explosion could be heard in the embassy. Reporters covering the vice president's unannounced visit were briefly moved to a more secure area. (not sure if this was "in" the Green Zone.)

May 15, 2007 (See May 16).

May 16, 2007 At least nine apparent mortar rounds slammed into the U.S.-controlled Green Zone on Wednesday, wounding at least six people, the second such attack in as many days. (actually 10 rounds, two dead, more injured). AP details.

May 19, 2007 Green Zone attacked during British Prime Mister Tony Blair's visit.

May 21, 2007 A mortar shell struck the roof of Iraq's parliament inside Baghdad's heavily protected Green Zone on Monday, shaking the building but causing no casualties.

June 14, 2007 Insurgents fired a barrage of rockets into the Baghdad Green Zone, hitting a street Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte had visited just minutes before. Police said there were some casualties but no other details were immediately known.

June 21, 2007 At least four mortar rounds landed inside Baghdad's heavily-fortified Green Zone which houses the U.S. embassy, an Iraqi interior Ministry official said. A column of black smoke was seen rising from the Green Zone.

July 4, 2007 (almost) U.S. helicopters attacked a group of extremists preparing to fire a rocket toward the Green Zone, the U.S. military said Wednesday.

July 7, 2007 Four consecutive explosions were heard by KUNA's correspondent here [in green zone], likely to have been caused by mortar shells, and were followed by the wailing of sirens.
Columns of thick black smoke were seen, apparently from a fire that had erupted at one of the locations.

July 10, 2007 Insurgents unleashed their most intense mortar attack to date on the Green Zone on Tuesday, killing 3 people and wounding 18, according to a statement from the American Embassy. [A]ccording to one American official in the Green Zone who spoke on condition of anonymity, the attack may have involved as many as 31 mortar shells.

At least 20 mortar rounds and Katyusha rockets struck the fortified Green Zone on Tuesday afternoon, killing an American service member and two other people in an attack on the heart of U.S. and Iraqi government facilities in the capital.

August 2, 2007
More than ten mortars fell in the early hours of Monday onto the fortified Green Zone in central Baghdad, eyewitnesses said. "Over ten mortars landed into the Green Zone in central Baghdad," an eyewitness told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq.

Lighter Side:

Jon Stewart video interview with Rajiv Chandrasekaran, author of "Emperial Life in the Emerald City."


1. Raw Story, Edwards and Sheehan, May 17, 2007, includes video.

2. Associated Press, Cheney visits Iraq to press for progress, May 9, 2007

3. The Atlantic Monthly, William Langewiesche, Welcome to the Green Zone, November 2004.


Contractor said...

The unfortunate reality is that people read this and believe iit. But of course, you only hash what other sources are re-hashing (or making up like democracyNow does).

How's this for a source. I have been in the IZ for 3 solid years. Not, I have lived here for 3 years with occasional R&R breaks.

you have nothing between June 1 and 14 Oct 2004. I can vouch that between July 20th and October 14th...we had Mortars come in almost every single day. One day we had something like 30 and the following evening another 10.

In the entire month of September 2004, everyone put on their vests at 1830 ecause the rounds started coming in around 1900 to 1930 every night.

GDAEman said...

Dear Contractor,

You'll notice that I've acknowledged your comment in the blog entry. On the off chance you visit again, drop me a line at gdaeman (at)

MICHAEL said...


I am going to the International Zone soon to work, How safe is it really. You have been there 3 years, any close calls.. Any advise would be much appreciated. International Zone v.s. Camp Victory? Safety wise..

Contractor also

SSG Wooten COMCAM said...

I stumbled on this blog researching some previous events during my tour in Iraq. I was stationed in the Green Zone from 23 Sept 03 to 22 Mar 04 (Army ComCam). Many attacks were not documented or spoken about just because of the frequency and minuteness of some of them. I just include this for clarity.

Back to the blog entry.
The Al Rasheed rocket attack actually began at 6:06 a.m. Iraq time on the 26th of October 2003.

I was on the 10th floor and yes it was a rude awakening! This was the most memorable of the 30+ attacks during my stay there. But just for reference/posterity, I want to include dates from my mission notes for the ones I had to document:

27 September 2003, first mortar attack on the Al Rasheed and North GZ; little damage, 1 impact (I wasn’t in that one).

26 Oct 2003, Al Rasheed Hotel Rocket Attack; 23 rockets fired, 17 impacted the hotel, 1 dead, 26 wounded (our count).

18 Jan 2004, “Assassin’s Gate” bombing; ~200 lb PE4 packed into a pickup truck detonated at the entrance to Gate 1, 20+ Iraqi fatalities, we lost two interpreters.

7 March 2004, third Rocket Attack on the Al Rasheed, I was across the street at the convention center, but did not document the scene.

19 March 2004, IED and rocket attack east of the Palace grounds.

Most of the smaller "attacks" were blind rocket shots from the South over the Tigris, nearly every other night from the first of November through Christmas Eve (Our retaliation on New Year’s was quite impressive).
One of the first ones in November destroyed about 20 contract vehicles in front of the Palace with a single luck shot into the main parking lot.

Just a day or two after we left, the 23rd or 24th of March I believe, was the big attack on central Baghdad and the Green Zone. And then all the Mahdi Army attacks beginning in April.

No politics for me, I will just be glad when all of my military brothers and sisters can come back for good and the Iraqis can return to civilized life.

B.B. said...
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B.B. said...

I was in Iraq and living in the Al Rasheed when it was hit. I can say, without a doubt, that it was NOT the first attack. It wasn't even the first attack on Al Rasheed -- they fell in the 'gardens' of the hotel every so often and the side/roof of the building was hit by several mortars well before the rocket attack (weeks before I believe). The Al Rasheed was right on the corner of the zone and so comparatively an easy target. Mortars were a pretty constant occurrence in the green zone, pretty much every morning as the sun rose. You got used to them and didn't worry until you could tell they were close by the sound; we'd just roll over and go back to sleep most of the time. New 'potholes' were always appearing, vehicles were regularly hit and damaged and we wore vest/helmets at all times outdoors. Maybe they are counting the Al Rasheed as the first death due to an attack in the Green Zone... or they're discounting weapons under a certain size in their accounts, considering mortars "personal arms" or something.

B.B. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
B.B. said...

SSG Wooten's comments didn't come up in my first read through... we worked out of the same office! I was a 46Q (journalist) with the PAO. Small world sometimes :)