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US blames Iran for rocket strikes in Iraq, warns of ‘decisive’ response

Two U.S. Marine Corps M1 Abrams tanks patrol the streets of Baghdad, Iraq, on April 14th, 2003. (U.S. Marine Corps/Released)
September 12, 2018

After rocket attacks struck the U.S. consulate and U.S. embassy in Iraq, the White House has lashed out at the perpetrators.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders delivered an official statement on Tuesday and blamed Iran for the attacks and promised a swift defensive response, Asia Times reported Wednesday.

“Over the past few days, we have seen life-threatening attacks in Iraq, including on the United States consulate in Basra and against the American embassy compound in Baghdad. Iran did not act to stop these attacks by its proxies in Iraq, which it has supported with funding, training and weapons,” the statement said.

“The United States will hold the regime in Tehran accountable for any attack that results in injury to our personnel or damage to United States Government facilities,” the statement added. “America will respond swiftly and decisively in defense of American lives.”

The statement addresses the Saturday rocket attack on a Basra airport, which houses the U.S. consulate. Another rocket attack took place in Baghdad, in a heavily fortified area housing the U.S. embassy.

Although it is not known whether or not Iran ordered the rocket attacks, the White House is attributing the attacks to the Iranian government for their participation in arming and supporting proxies.

A U.S. official said the rocket attacks were clearly intended for the U.S. diplomatic mission. “Given the explicit incitement in social media,” the official said, according to The Wall Street Journal. “The U.S. government has no doubt that this was directed at the U.S.”

Tensions with Iran have been high since the U.S. withdrew from the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran and subsequent sanctions imposed on Iran over their nuclear activities and their role in destabilizing the Middle East.

After the rocket attacks, Shiite commander Abu Medhi al-Mohandis blamed the U.S. for violent protests that led to the torching and destruction of the Iranian consulate in Basra. Other offices of Iranian-backed political parties and paramilitary groups were also destroyed.

“The American Embassy is directing the situation in Basra,” Mohandis declared.

Iraq Masjedi, the Iranian ambassador to Iraq, announced the opening of a new Iranian consulate in Basra shortly after the original building was torched. “We don’t want lose a single day of services for the people of Basra,” he said.

Protests have been rampant in Basra as citizens express their outrage over blackouts, water poisoning, unemployment, and government corruption. Officials reported at least 15 dead and 249 injured as a result of encounters between protestors and law enforcement over the past week.