President Trump warns against future attacks on Americans in Iraq, saying he will hold Tehran responsible, days after US mission in Baghdad came under rocket attacks.
US President Donald Trump has warned he will hold "Iran responsible" in the event of a fatal attack on Americans in Iraq, as the first anniversary of the killing of a top Iranian general in a US air strike approaches.
"Our embassy in Baghdad got hit [on] Sunday by several rockets," Trump said on Twitter, referring to an attack that caused damage but no deaths.
"Guess where they came from: IRAN," he added.
"Now we hear chatter of additional attacks against Americans in Iraq," he added, before offering "some friendly health advice to Iran: if one American is killed, I will hold Iran responsible. Think it over."
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... pic.twitter.com/0OCL6IFp5M— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 23, 2020
Top officials agree on options to deter attacks
Meanwhile, top US national security officials agreed on Wednesday on a proposed range of options to present to President Trump aimed at deterring any attack on US military or diplomatic personnel in Iraq, a senior administration official told Reuters news agency.
The meeting was spurred by an attack on Sunday in which rockets landed in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone compound targeting the US embassy and causing some minor damage, the Iraqi military and the embassy said.
The so-called principal's committee group, including acting Defence Secretary Chris Miller, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien met at the White House, said the official, who requested anonymity.
A "range of options" would be presented soon to Trump, said the official, who would not describe the content of the options or say whether they included military action.
"Each one is designed to be non-escalatory and to deter further attacks," the official said.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had already pointed the finger at Tehran, while the US military command that covers the region said that the rocket attack "was almost certainly conducted by an Iranian-backed rogue militia group."
It said in a statement that while it "caused no US injuries or casualties, the attack did damage buildings in the US embassy compound, and was clearly NOT intended to avoid casualties."
"The United States will hold Iran accountable for the deaths of any Americans that result from the work of these Iranian-backed rogue militia groups," it added.
Iran responded by calling on US authorities on Monday not to provoke "tensions".
Qasem Soleimani's killing
Trump ordered the drone attack on January 3, 2020, to kill the powerful Iranian general Qasem Soleimani while he was in Baghdad.
The air strike came after Iranian-backed militias had fired rockets at US targets in Iraq, in a scenario echoed by the latest strikes against the US embassy.
After Soleimani's killing, the entire region held its breath in anticipation of an uncontrolled escalation which ultimately did not materialize.
But tensions are rising again as the first anniversary of the strike nears and the US leader – in his final weeks in office – is sticking to his "maximum pressure" approach toward the Iranian regime.
Washington has recently reduced its diplomatic staff in the Iraqi capital amid speculations that it could close the mission altogether.