Instead of making accusations, Trump should review U.S. forces' presence in the region, Iran says 

March 13, 2020 - 14:5

TEHRAN - The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman on Friday rejected Donald Trump's baseless accusations that Iran is responsible for recent attacks on a military base hosting U.S. troops in Iraq, calling on Trump to revise the presence of his country’s forces in the Middle East. 

Abbas Mousavi said, "The U.S. can not flinch from the negative impacts of its forces' illegal presence in Iraq and reaction of the Muslim country's people to the assassination of their commanders and combatants via resorting to the technique of escaping forward and accusing others of being behind the developments."

He added, "Trump, instead of taking dangerous measures and making baseless accusations, must fundamentally review his troops' presence and behaviors in the region."

Mousavi went on to say that the U.S. president should drastically avoid spreading the “virus” of accusation against others to justify Washington's “illogical behaviors”. 

According to USA Today, the Pentagon launched airstrikes Thursday targeting an Iraqi group believed to be responsible for the rocket attack on Wednesday that killed two Americans and a British stationed at the Camp Taji base north of Baghdad. 

Multiple U.S. strikes targeted a Kataib Hezbollah weapons facilities inside Iraq, the Associated Press reported, citing an unnamed U.S. official. The strikes were a joint operation with the British, the official said. According to the Washington Post, the United States resumed airstrikes against the Iraqi group early Friday.  The aerial bombardment took place around 1:30 a.m., according to the Iraqi military.

Another group, Harakat al-Nujaba, accused the United States of hitting militia and Iraqi army headquarters, as well as a civilian airport. In a statement early Friday, it said that further strikes could prompt retaliation involving an “eye for an eye.”

A U.S. military spokesperson in Iraq confirmed three military coalition personnel died in the assault late Wednesday and that more than 15 small rockets hit the Camp Taji base. In a statement, Army Col. Myles Caggins did not provide further details but the Associated Press and other outlets reported that the attack killed a U.S. soldier, a U.S. contractor and a member of Britain's armed forces.

The U.S. has about 5,000 troops in Iraq. American troops regularly come under fire in Iraq from groups such as Kataib Hezbollah or another group. Caggins said an investigation is ongoing. 

According to the Hill, the Pentagon's top leaders on Thursday claimed that Iranian-backed militia groups were behind the rocket attack.

"Yesterday's attack by Iranian-backed Shia militia groups consisted of multiple indirect fires that originated from a stationary platform and was clearly targeting coalition and partnered forces on Camp Taji," Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters at the Pentagon.

On January 24, millions of Iraqi people convened in the capital city of Baghdad to deplore the U.S. military presence in the country.

People from “all of the Iraqi provinces" gathered in the ongoing rally to condemn the Americans’ illegal presence in the country, after the U.S. assassinated top Iranian commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in Baghdad on January 3.

The protesters were carrying banners and chanting slogans calling for the expulsion of U.S. forces.

During the rallies, the influential Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr lashed out at the United States for its illegal military presence in Iraq, saying, “If the U.S. government does not agree to leave Iraq, it will be considered and treated as an occupying state and enemy.”

Baghdad should revoke all security agreements with the U.S. and ban the U.S. from conducting military operations in its skies, he added.

Also, on January 5 the Iraqi parliament voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution calling for the expulsion of all U.S.-led forces in the country. The resolution was adopted two days after Washington assassinated Soleimani and Muhandis.

MJ/PA

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