[ltr]2022.01.14 - 13:49[/ltr]
people - Baghdad
The New York Times said on Friday that Washington had sent messages "through Iraq" warning Iran in the event of a repeat of the scenario targeting the US embassy in the capital, Baghdad.
The newspaper quoted in a report translated by "Nass" (January 14, 2022), the comment of the Pentagon spokesman, John F. Kirby, which included a reference to a possible US response to the attacks "in a timely manner."
Four missiles targeted the US embassy in Baghdad on Thursday evening, the latest in a series of air strikes amid Iranian threats and political violence as Iraqi factions struggle to form a new government.
The Iraqi army said a missile landed inside a school across the street from the US embassy in the heavily fortified Green Zone, with shock waves from the blast, slightly wounding an Iraqi child and an Iraqi soldier. There were no immediate reports of casualties or details of the damage caused by the other three missiles.
The US embassy said on Twitter that its compound had been attacked "by terrorist groups trying to undermine Iraq's security, sovereignty and international relations."
"We have said for a long time that these reprehensible attacks are not only an attack on diplomatic facilities, but also on the sovereignty of Iraq itself," the statement said.
In Washington, Pentagon spokesman John F. Kirby said a "relatively small number" of missiles hit the Green Zone and that US officials were still assessing the damage.
The missiles were launched against the backdrop of a series of missile and drone attacks against US personnel in Iraq and Syria that Biden administration officials have attributed to Iranian-backed militias. Asked whether the United States would respond to the latest barrage, Mr. Kirby did not specify a possible response, if any.
"I've said it before, we're going to do what we have to do to protect our people," Kirby told reporters. "If and when we respond, we will choose the time and place we choose. We certainly understand that these attacks are continuing. They are clearly intended to harm our people, if not death, and we take that very seriously," he said.
"We have made it clear to the Iranians in other channels how seriously we are dealing with this matter," he added.
Iraqi officials said the United States sent messages through Iraq to Iran warning that it would respond to further attacks.
The missiles fired Thursday activated the embassy's anti-missile system, artillery and defensive mortars designed to detect and intercept incoming projectiles. In neighborhoods near the Green Zone, some residents from gardens and rooftops saw mid-air bursts of bullets from the system exploding in red flashes. Others had to take cover inside their homes after the shock of the explosion.
An official in the US-led anti-ISIS coalition said Iraqi security forces had told them they had found the rocket launcher under a bridge in the Dora neighborhood, south of Baghdad.
No one has claimed responsibility for the accident. But attacks on US military bases have increased since the beginning of January on the anniversary of the US drone attack that killed both Major General Qassem Soleimani of Iran and a high-ranking Iraqi security official in Baghdad in 2020. Iran and Iran-backed militias in Iraq say It has not yet avenged the assassination of Major General Soleimani.
The Shiite political factions, some with armed wings, were divided in the wake of the Iraqi elections that took place in October, in which supporters of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr won the largest number of seats. Al-Sadr, who is considered an Iraqi nationalist, opposes the intervention of both Iran and the United States in Iraq.
In a Twitter post on Thursday evening, al-Sadr blamed Iran-backed militias for the missile attacks, saying they were trying to justify their existence by attacking US interests.
The first session of the new parliament ended last Sunday, after a speaker was chosen, with unrest after the largest member of parliament collapsed and was taken to hospital after he said that members of the Sadr bloc had pushed him.
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