President says he will hold Iran accountable if even one American is killed
President Donald Trump issued a sharp warning to Iran after a rocket attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad earlier this week.
Sunday’s 21-missile attack, which killed at least one Iraqi civilian and damaged the embassy compound, was the largest such attack on the Iraqi capital’s Green Zone in a decade. It is believed to be linked to Iran.
“Our embassy in Baghdad was hit by several missiles on Sunday. Three missiles failed to launch. Guess where they came from – Iran. Now we hear talk of more attacks against Americans in Iraq,” Trump wrote on Twitter.
“Friendly medical advice to Iran: if even one American dies, I will hold Iran accountable. Think about it,” he added.
It was initially reported that Iranian-backed militias fired eight missiles at the International Zone in Baghdad, where the U.S. Embassy is located. The diplomatic mission’s missile defense system was activated to repel the attack.
But a review of the situation by U.S. Central Command revealed that many more missiles were used in the attack, the Wall Street Journal reported. According to the newspaper, about half of the 21 missiles landed on U.S. Embassy territory.
The missiles are believed to have been supplied by Iran, but the head of Central Command, General Frank Mackenzie, said it was unclear whether the attack was planned by Tehran or forces affiliated with Iran. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
“I don’t know the extent to which Iran is complicit,” McKenzie told the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday. – We are not seeking war, and I don’t really believe they are seeking war.”
In a statement issued Sunday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iranian-backed militias, while Iraq’s president called the attack an “act of terrorism.”
The attack came shortly before the anniversary of the U.S.-ordered drone strike that killed Gen. Qassem Suleimani, commander of Iran’s elite al-Quds military unit. Suleimani and several other Iranian military officers were killed Jan. 3 as they were on their way to Baghdad airport.
Tehran responded with a missile strike on an Iraqi airbase where U.S. troops are stationed.
U.S. officials have expressed concern that Iran or its proxies might take other steps in retaliation for the killing of Suleimani on the eve of the anniversary, and earlier this month some embassy personnel in Baghdad were recalled.
In a show of military strength earlier this week, the Pentagon announced that a submarine equipped with cruise missiles had passed through the Strait of Hormuz. This was one of the rare occasions when the movements of a U.S. nuclear-powered submarine were disclosed.
Also last week, U.S. B-52H bombers flew out of Louisiana and overflew the Persian Gulf.