Iran rejects US accusation of being behind Baghdad protests

Tehran hits out at ‘audacity of US officials’ who accused Islamic Republic of stoking tension in Iraqi capital.

Tensions have risen in Baghdad since Sunday, when the US targeted the Iran-backed militia Kataib Hezbollah in Iraq and Syria, killing at least 25 fighters [Wissm al-Okili/Reuters]
Tensions have risen in Baghdad since Sunday, when the US targeted the Iran-backed militia Kataib Hezbollah in Iraq and Syria, killing at least 25 fighters [Wissm al-Okili/Reuters]

Tehran has condemned Washington’s “audacity” for blaming Iran for anti-United States demonstrations in Baghdad, as it warned the US to review its policies in the region.

Tensions have been rising in the Iraqi capital, culminating in a protest at the US embassy compound on Tuesday, since the US on Sunday targeted Iran-backed militia Kataib Hezbollah in Iraq and Syria, killing at least 25 fighters.

“The surprising audacity of American officials is so much that after killing at least 25 … and violating the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, that now … they attribute the Iraqi people’s protest against their cruel acts to the Islamic Republic of Iran,” said Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman, Abbas Mousavi.

Mousavi’s statement came after US President Donald Trump accused the Islamic Republic of “orchestrating” the tensions around the US embassy in Baghdad.

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Mousavi said the claim was an insult to the people of Iraq.

“How and based on what logic do you expect the nation of Iraq to be silent in the face of all these atrocities?” he asked.

The US said it launched the air raids on Sunday in response to a rocket attack that it blamed on Kataib Hezbollah and that killed an American civiian contractor in northern Iraq.

“The Americans ignore the Iraqi nation’s liberty and drive for independence on one hand, and on the other forget their own role in supporting Saddam and Daesh,” Mousavi said, referring to former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and the ISIL (ISIS) group.

He also warned against any “reckless and wrong reaction” as he advised the White House to “reconsider its destructive policies in the region”.

Trump calls Mahdi

Meanwhile, Trump spoke on Tuesday with Iraqi caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, the White House said in a statement.

“The two leaders discussed regional security issues and President Trump emphasised the need to protect United States personnel and facilities in Iraq,” the statement said.

The US military has deployed attack helicopters to protect the vast complex.

“We have taken appropriate force protection actions to ensure the safety of American citizens … and to ensure our right of self-defense. We are sending additional forces to support our personnel at the Embassy,” Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman Colonel Myles B Caggins III tweeted.

Source : News Agencies

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