US Should Not Blame Others for Outcome of Own Activity in Iraq


The United States cannot blame others for the consequences of its own illegal presence in Iraq, including the nation's reaction to the assassination of Iraqi commanders and soldiers, an Iranian top diplomat said. 
"[The administration of US President Donald] Trump needs to make a fundamental revision about the presence and activity of its forces in the region and seriously avoid spreading the virus of evasion and accusation to justify its irrational behavior and dodge responsibility," Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi said, ISNA reported. 
He made the statement after the US launched strikes on Iran-backed Kataib Hezbollah militias in Iraq on Thursday, accusing the group of making rocket attacks a day earlier that killed two American troops and a British soldier. 
US Defense Secretary Mark Esper, in a Pentagon statement detailing the strikes, cautioned that the US was prepared to respond again, if needed.
"We will take any action necessary to protect our forces in Iraq and the region," Esper was quoted as saying by Reuters. 
However, the retaliatory attack, according to Iraqi military officials, killed three Iraqi soldiers, two police officers and a civilian worker as well as damaging an unfinished civilian airport. It was not clear whether they killed any Kataib Hezbollah fighters, New York Times reported. 
In a statement released on Friday morning, the Iraqi Joint Command described the attack as "an aggression" that "targeted Iraqi military institutions violating the principal of partnership" between the Iraqi security forces and the Americans.
This attack "cost the lives of Iraqi fighters while they were doing their military duty", the statement said.



Previous Hostility 

The US had previously blamed Kataib Hezbollah for a rocket attack in December that killed an American contractor.
In response, it assassinated the militia's founder, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, along with Iran's Major General Qasem Soleimani and their companions in a drone strike in Baghdad on Jan. 3. 
Soleimani was the head of the Quds Force of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, which is in charge of overseas operations and played a key role in defeating the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group. 
The assassination sparked a wave of public protest by mourners both in Iran and Iraq against the US aggression. 
Iran vowed to take a hard revenge and targeted locations hosting US forces in Iraq with missiles a few days later, giving more than 100 American troops brain injuries. 
It, however, said the ultimate revenge would be the total expulsion of US forces from the region.
Fearing a wider conflict between the two countries, the US Senate advanced legislation in early February intended to limit Trump's ability to wage war against Iran. 
On Wednesday, the legislation was passed by the US House of Representatives and was sent to the White House for final approval. 
The measure would require Trump to remove troops engaged in hostilities against Iran unless the US Congress declares war or passes a specific authorization for the use of military force.
"It's our responsibility to do something because we know the tensions could flare up again at a moment's notice," Representative Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said. 

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