Pompeo warns US will act in self-defense in Iraq after attacks on troops
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the Iraqi prime minister that the U.S. is prepared to act in self-defense if attacked in Iraq, according to a readout of a call between the two officials released on Monday.
Pompeo spoke with Iraq’s Prime Minister Adil Abd al-Mahdi on Sunday and called on the Iraqi government to fulfill its obligations protecting coalition troops working in the country to defeat ISIS and identify and hold accountable the groups responsible for a rocket attack last week that injured three U.S. service members.
“These actions will not be tolerated and the groups responsible must be held accountable by the Government of Iraq,” Pompeo wrote on Twitter.
Discussed the deadly attacks on #Iraq’s Camp Taji military base with Prime Minister @AdilAbdAlMahdi . These actions will not be tolerated and the groups responsible must be held accountable by the Government of Iraq.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) March 16, 2020
Sunday’s call came after U.S. and Iraqi service members were wounded in a Katyusha rocket attack on Camp Taji base, north of Baghdad, which hosts coalition forces engaged in the fight against ISIS.
Three U.S. service members were wounded, the Department of Defense said on Sunday, adding that two of them were seriously injured and were being treated at a U.S. military hospital in Baghdad.
The Department of Defense said Iraqi forces made an initial arrest following an investigation into the attack and are working in coordination with U.S. officials, although no military group has been identified as responsible for the rocket strike.
Iran-backed militias operating in Iraq, however, have launched dozens of attacks on bases housing U.S. troops.
On Sunday, the Department of Defense also said it had earlier carried out strikes against the Iran-backed militia Kataeb Hezbollah in retaliation for a rocket attack on March 11 that killed two U.S. service members and a British medic.
Kataeb Hezbollah is also responsible for the death of an American contractor in Iraq late last year that set off a chain of escalating violence between the Iranian-backed militias and the U.S.
The U.S. and Iran managed to step back from the brink of open conflict following the targeted killing of Iran’s top general, Qassem Soleimani, in Baghdad on Jan. 3.
The U.S said it launched the strike, which occurred following provocations by Iran-backed militias breaching the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad, to prevent an imminent attack on its interests in the region.
–This report was updated at 12:07 p.m.