White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders speaks during a briefing at the White House in Washoington, D.C., on September 10, 2018. Photo: Nicholas Kamm | AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — US President Donald Trump won't hesitate to answer if Iran or its proxies injure Americans in Iraq or damage US facilities.
"America will respond swiftly and decisively in defense of American lives," read a statement released on Tuesday by White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders.
Six artillery rounds were fired at the US Embassy in Iraq in the Green Zone in Baghdad on Friday. The coalition told Rudaw
in an interview the barrage was "misguided," while "three of them hit an open lot and three didn't hit anything."
"Iran did not act to stop these attacks by its proxies in Iraq, which it has supported with funding, training, and weapons," added Sanders.
Washington did not indicate the retaliatory measures it was willing to take. Several key Iran-backed militia leaders are vying for influence in the next Iraqi government, including Asaib Ahl al-Haq's Qais al-Khazali.
"The United States will hold the regime in Tehran accountable for any attack that results in injury to our personnel or damage for United States Government facilities," said Sanders.
The US State Department reiterated that "Iran remains a bad actor in the region and in Iraq," in a press conference on Tuesday with spokesperson Heather Nauert.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) launched seven missiles at a joint coordination center belonging to Iranian Kurdish parties in Koya, killing 17 and injuring 46.
Nauert echoed the condemnation by US Vice President Mike Pence of the Koya attacks in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region.
"It’s obviously a clear violation of Iraq’s sovereignty and Iraq’s rights. Iran continues to be a bad actor in the region, and we continue to support Iraq’s sovereignty. We expect Iran to fully respect the sovereignty of Iraq and other regional states and to stop this destabilizing behavior," added Nauert.
Five Iranian Kurdish parties in opposition to the regime were targeted in the missile attack.
“Today the whole world saw how Iran treated with these centers of corruption," Tasnim news agency quoted Iranian Armed Forces Maj. Gen. Mohammed Hossein Baqeri as saying on Tuesday.
He said under the UN Charter, Tehran has the right to defend itself.
“Enemies should be aware that if such plots continue, Iran’s Armed Forces will not keep silent,” added Baqeri.
Armed Kurdish political parties intensified attacks against IRGC positions this year. They have vowed to push deeper into their villages, towns, and cities. The Kurdish groups seeks greater political, cultural, and minority rights in the Islamic Republic.
A second round of US sanctions targeting Iran's energy sector is set to go into effect in November, further crippling Tehran's fragile economy.