U.S. airstrikes target facilities in Syria

Marco Green
February 26, 2021

Last week, an American servicemember and several American contractors were killed in a rocket attack in Erbil, within Iraq's northern Kurdistan region.

Under the Trump administration, the escalator back-and-forth stoked tensions, culminating in the USA killing of Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani and a retaliatory Iranian ballistic missile attack against us forces in Iraq past year.

He characterized the airstrikes a "defensive precision strike".

If Iran wants the United States to resume compliance with the deal "the best way and the only way is to get to the table where those things will be discussed", the official added.

The second European diplomat said USA leverage was still in place because President Joe Biden had not lifted sanctions.

Biden was under mounting outside pressure to act, particularly since former President Donald Trump had taken quick action after Iran-backed militia groups conducted similar attacks in Iraq in December 2019 that killed an Iraqi-American contractor.

Under the Trump administration, the escalatory back-and-forth stoked tensions, culminating in the U.S. killing of Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani and a retaliatory Iranian ballistic missile attack against United States forces in Iraq previous year.

Most attacks do not cause casualties but the latest rocket attack on Monday was the third in Iraq in just over a week, aimed at Green Zone areas that host USA troops, diplomats or contractors.

The group said all the dead were from Iraq's state-sponsored Hashed al-Shaabi force, the umbrella group over many small militias that have ties to Iran.

Earlier this week, the Kata'ib Hezbollah group, one of the main Iran-aligned Iraqi militia groups, denied any role in the rocket attacks.

The incidents were consistent with the dozens of attacks a year ago, which usually involved a score of 107mm rockets fired from a truck, security officials said.

"This is not apparently an attack on a major site", said Liebermann. The US has responded with airstrikes against Iranian-backed miitias. "And intelligence shared with us says there are more to come".

"This is a similar pattern of attacks, and intelligence reports show that others will follow suit", the USA official said anonymously. Iraqi officials say Baghdad is reluctant to release about $ 2 billion for fear of upsetting Washington.

Under Mr Trump, tensions with Iran soared, reaching a high point after a US-directed drone strike killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said Monday the USA would "hold Iran responsible for the actions of its proxies that attack Americans" but would not "lash out" and risk destabilising Iraq.

The US military official said that, in talks with Washington, "we've provided options, including striking inside and outside of Iraq, but we haven't heard yet from the new administration".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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