Supporters of Lebanon's Hezbollah hold posters of Iran's Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during a parade to mark Ashura, on September 20, 2018 in Beirut. Photo: Anwar Amro/AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The United States will hold Iran accountable for attacks on American interests via proxy forces, Washington’s top diplomat said.
"We will not let Iran get away with using a proxy force to attack an American interest. Iran will be held accountable for those incidents," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told CNN in comments published on Friday.
The US has blamed Tehran for rocket attacks they say appeared to target the US embassy in Baghdad and its consulate in Basra earlier this month. Washington says the rockets were fired by Iranian-backed militias in Iraq. On the same day, Iran’s own consulate in Basra was torched by protesters.
Pompeo did not mention the Iranian missile strike on the Kurdish party headquarters in Koya in the partial interview published by CNN, but US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley harshly condemned Iran’s “first direct military strike into Iraqi territory in over a decade.”
As the “world’s largest state sponsor of terror,” Iran is responsible for arming and training Iraqi militias, Hezbollah, and Houthis in Yemen, said Pompeo, pledging to “go to the source.”
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif took to Twitter to call out the administration of US President Donald Trump as the "real threat to our region and to international peace and security."
US sanctions on Iran’s oil industry will come into force in November. Iranian officials have threatened to shut down the Strait Hormuz, a waterway used to ship nearly a third of all oil transported by sea.
Iran’s air force and navy plans to carry out a massive drill in the area on Saturday, to “show Iran’s power and military capability in the Persian Gulf and the high seas,” said IRGC spokesperson Brig. Gen. Ramezan Sharif, IRNA reported.
The demonstration of its military might will send a message that Iran’s armed forces are ready to protect national interests against any threat, he added.
Washington is increasing its pressure on Tehran ahead of a scheduled UN Security Council session on Iran that Trump will chair next week.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will be in New York for the UN General Assembly. Iran has the right to attend the meeting, leaving the door open Rouhani and Trump to face off.