Trump warns Iran of ‘very heavy price’ if there’s ‘sneak attack’ on US forces in Iraq
President Trump on Wednesday warned Iran and its proxies against carrying out what he alleged is a planned “sneak attack” on U.S. troops in Iraq.
“Upon information and belief, Iran or its proxies are planning a sneak attack on U.S. troops and/or assets in Iraq. If this happens, Iran will pay a very heavy price, indeed!” Trump tweeted.
Upon information and belief, Iran or its proxies are planning a sneak attack on U.S. troops and/or assets in Iraq. If this happens, Iran will pay a very heavy price, indeed!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 1, 2020
It was not immediately clear what information Trump was referring to and what the alleged sneak attack would entail. Trump was slated to receive an intelligence briefing at noon, according to his daily schedule.
The White House and National Security Council had no immediate comment when asked for elaboration on the tweet.
At a White House press briefing later, Trump said “we just have information that they were planning something, and it’s very good information.”
“It was led by Iran, not necessarily Iran, but by groups supported by Iran, but that to me is Iran. And we’re just saying, don’t do it. Don’t do it. It will be a very bad thing for them if they did it,” he said.
The United States and Iran have engaged in several tit-for-tats with Iraq as the backdrop, coming to the brink of war earlier this year.
After a rocket attack the Trump administration blamed on an Iran-backed militia in Iraq killed a U.S. contractor, the U.S. military responded with strikes on militia targets. Supporters of the militia then stormed the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
Trump responded by ordering a drone strike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani while he was at the Baghdad airport. Iran retaliated with a missile strike on Iraqi military bases housing U.S. troops, inflicting brain injuries on more than 100 U.S. service members.
The situation seemed poised for a repeat last month after the Iran-backed militia, called Kata’ib Hezbollah, killed two U.S. troops in a rocket strike on an Iraqi military base. The U.S. military retaliated with strikes on five of the militia’s weapons storage facilities.
But both Iran and the United States are consumed right now with battling their outbreaks of the coronavirus.
Still, if there’s another attack, Trump said Wednesday, “this response will be bigger.”
Soleimani’s replacement as commander of Iran’s expeditionary Quds Force, Esmail Ghaani, visited Baghdad this week. Iraqi officials told The Associated Press on Wednesday the visit was meant to unify Iraq’s divided political leaders.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry also railed Wednesday against the U.S. deployment of the Patriot air defense system to Iraq, which the U.S. military did to protect against any future Iranian missile strikes.
In a statement, the ministry warned that such “warmongering measures amid the outbreak of coronavirus … would create tensions, and could steer the regional situation towards instability and catastrophic conditions.”
Updated at 6:21 p.m.