Trump makes threats following largest rocket attack on US Embassy in Baghdad since 2010
President Trump on Wednesday added to the growing tension between the United States and Iran following a rocket attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad early this week, warning against any additional strikes.
The Sunday rocket attack, which included 21 missiles that killed at least one Iraqi civilian and damaged the embassy compound, was the largest such strike on the Iraqi capital’s Green Zone in a decade. It is thought to be linked to Iran.
“Our embassy in Baghdad got hit Sunday by several rockets. Three rockets failed to launch. Guess where they were from: IRAN. Now we hear chatter of additional attacks against Americans in Iraq,” Trump tweeted.
“Some friendly health advice to Iran: If one American is killed, I will hold Iran responsible. Think it over,” he added.
It was initially reported that Iran-backed militias fired eight rockets into the International Zone in Baghdad that houses the U.S. Embassy around 8:30 p.m. local time. The facility’s missile defense system was activated to deflect the attack.
But an after-action review by U.S. Central Command (Centcom) found that the attack included far more missiles, with roughly half of the 21 weapons landing inside the U.S. Embassy compound, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Centcom head Gen. Frank McKenzie said it was unknown if the attack, which included missiles believed to have been supplied by Iran, was planned by Tehran or an Iran-linked force. No group has yet claimed responsibility.
“I do not know the degree to which Iran is complicit,” McKenzie told the Journal on Tuesday. “We do not seek a war, and I don’t actually believe they seek one either.”
In a statement on Sunday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran-backed militias, while Iraq’s president called the attack a “terrorist act.”
The attack comes near the one-year anniversary of the U.S.-ordered drone strike that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force. Soleimani and several other Iranian military officials were killed Jan. 3 while traveling to the Baghdad airport.
Tehran responded by launching a missile attack on an Iraqi air base housing U.S. troops, resulting in more than 100 U.S. service members suffering traumatic brain injuries.
U.S. officials have expressed concern that Iran or its proxies could further retaliate for the killing near its anniversary, earlier this month temporarily withdrawing some staff from its embassy in Baghdad.
And in a show of military force, the Pentagon earlier this week announced that a guided-missile submarine passed through the Strait of Hormuz. The statement was a rare disclosure of the movements of one of the United States’s nuclear-powered submarines.
The U.S. military also last week flew two B-52H bombers from Louisiana over the Persian Gulf.
The rocket strike on the U.S. Embassy also comes as the Trump administration is on its way out and the incoming Biden administration has looked to possibly try restore the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement and reengage with the country diplomatically.