US Secretary of State slammed Iranian-backed militias in Iraq for an attack near Baghdad International Airport that wounded five Iraqi soldiers. “To Iran’s leaders, the US will respond decisively if Iran or its proxies harm US personnel or our Iraqi partners.” Pompeo also noted that Iran’s proxies in Iraq have conducted several attacks against bases in Iraq where US forces are located.
This comes after six months of tensions in Iraq in which Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias have been accused of carry out more than ten attacks against bases where US forces are present. The attacks have usually involved rocket and mortar fire that has rarely harmed anyone but comes close to bases where US forces and Iraqi forces are located. This includes Camp Taji, Ayn al-Asad base and Q-West and Balad air bases. These are key infrastructure and sites for US forces and the wider anti-ISIS Coalition. US Vice-President Mike Pence and US President Donald Trump have also spoken at Asad base to US troops.
The attacks have increased in recent months and included numerous katyusha-style rockets. Pompeo said the US would continue to work “hand-in-hand with our Iraqi partners” on Friday. “We must also use this opportunity to remind Iran’s leaders that any attacks by them or their proxies of any identity that harm Americans, our allies or our interests will be answered with a decisive US response,” Pompeo said according to CNN.
Pompeo and the administration has warned Iran in the past about attacks. Iran has attacked oil tankers in May and June, downed a US drone in June and attacked Saudi Arabia’s Abqaiq oil facility in September. It has also sought to send ballistic missiles to Iraq, according to reports, and built bases in Syria. The US now appears to be expanding its willingness to respond if Iraqi forces are targeted.
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