Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Iran and its leaders Friday of a “decisive U.S. response” if the regime or its militias harm American troops or allies in the region.
“We must also use this opportunity to remind Iran’s leaders that any attacks by them, or their proxies of any identity, that harm Americans, our allies, or our interests will be answered with a decisive U.S. response,” Pompeo said in a statement on Friday.
Pompeo also fingered Iranian-backed militias as being responsible for the Dec. 9 and Dec. 11 rocket attacks near Baghdad International Airport.
The rocket attack Monday wounded five Iraqi security forces, two of them critically, Pompeo said in a statement.
“Iran’s proxies have recently conducted several attacks against bases where Iraqi Security Forces are co-located with U.S. and International Coalition personnel,” Pompeo said. “We hope and pray these brave Iraqis will quickly and fully recover from their injuries.”
There have been nearly 10 rocket attacks near U.S. installations and facilities across Iraq over the last several weeks. A U.S. official told Military Times that Iranian militias are now using a more lethal and longer range 122 mm rocket vice the 107 mm rockets used in previous attacks.
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill voiced concerns that America’s restrained policy regarding Iran may be decreasing the effectiveness of the U.S. military’s ability to deter Tehran’s malign behavior.
“Iran should not mistake the United States’ restraint for an unwillingness to respond with decisive military force should our forces or interests be attacked," Secretary of Defense Mark Esper told lawmakers Wednesday on Capitol Hill.
The U.S. has deployed nearly 14,000 additional troops to the Middle East over the last six months to respond to Iranian malign behavior.
Esper says the DoD may send additional troops to the region.
“Iran must respect the sovereignty of its neighbors and immediately cease its provision of lethal aid and support to third parties in Iraq and throughout the region,” Pompeo said Friday.
Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.