White House warns Iran over attacks on US diplomatic missions in Iraq

White House warns Iran over attacks on US diplomatic missions in Iraq

The White House on Tuesday blamed Iran for recent attacks against U.S. diplomatic facilities in Iraq, warning that it will hold Tehran accountable if U.S. personnel are injured.

Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders blamed "proxies" of Iran for recent attacks at the U.S. consulate in Basra, Iraq, and near the American Embassy compound in Baghdad.

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"Iran did not act to stop these attacks by its proxies in Iraq, which it has supported with funding, training, and weapons," Sanders said in a statement.

"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," she added. "America will respond swiftly and decisively in defense of American lives."

The U.S. and Iran have for years backed opposing political groups in Iraq, contributing to tensions between the two countries.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Iraqi protesters lit the Iranian consulate on fire last week and chanted "Iran out out!"

Hours later, an unknown party fired rockets toward the Basra airport that houses the U.S. consulate, as well as toward the Green Zone in Baghdad, where the U.S. Embassy is located.

While tensions between the U.S. and Iran have simmered for decades, the Trump administration seemingly escalated the war of words between the countries after it withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal earlier this year. The Obama-era deal offered Tehran economic sanctions relief in exchange for limitations on its nuclear program.

The Trump administration has since reimposed some of the sanctions, with a second set of penalties set to go into effect later this year.

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoSunday shows preview: Trump sells U.N. reorganizing and Kavanaugh allegations dominate Pompeo: 'We've not been successful' in changing US-Russia relations Positive Moon-Kim summit creates a diplomatic opening in North Korea MORE announced last month the creation of an “Iran Action Group” to coordinate the State Department’s post-nuclear deal Iran policy.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpSunday shows preview: Trump sells U.N. reorganizing and Kavanaugh allegations dominate Ex-Trump staffer out at CNN amid “false and defamatory accusations” Democrats opposed to Pelosi lack challenger to topple her MORE has touted the success of his administration's harsher stance toward Iran, pointing to the country's flailing economy.

Trump has vacillated in his willingness to work with Iranian leadership in recent months. He caught many off guard in July when he warned Iranian President Hassan Rouhani that Tehran would face “consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered” if he threatened the U.S.

Days later, Trump said at a press conference that he would be willing to meet with Iranian leaders without preconditions.