Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran for a spate of rocket attacks against Iraqi bases where American troops are located and warned the Trump administration would respond forcefully if U.S. or allied forces were injured or killed.
The warning Friday was a fresh indication of rising tensions as the U.S. has sought to use economic sanctions to compel Iran to curtail its military presence in the region and accept stringent limits on its nuclear activities.
“Iran’s proxies have recently conducted several attacks against bases where Iraqi Security Forces are co-located with U.S. and International Coalition personnel,” Mr. Pompeo said in a statement.
Any attacks by Iran or its proxies “that harm Americans, our allies or our interests will be answered with a decisive U.S. response,” Mr. Pompeo added.
A spokesman for Iran’s mission to the U.N. didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Iran has long been accused by U.S. officials of arming and funding Shiite militias in Iraq. During the U.S. occupation of Iraq, Iranian-backed militias killed hundreds of U.S. troops, according to U.S. intelligence reports.
During the military campaign against Islamic State, however, U.S. forces and Iranian-backed forces in Iraq focused on fighting the terrorist group. That led to an informal truce as each side refrained from attacking the other.
In recent weeks, a spate of rocket firings suggests the truce might be breaking down.
The bases that have come under fire are controlled and defended by Iraq’s security forces. But also present are U.S. and other international troops who have been training Iraqi forces and helping with the fight against Islamic State remnants.
Mr. Pompeo singled out two rocket attacks in his statement. They were a Dec. 9 attack against an Iraqi military compound at the Baghdad airport that wounded at least five members of Iraq’s Counterterrorism Service, an elite unit that was established and trained by the U.S. military, and another rocket attack two days later on the airport.
No groups have claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Those attacks come as Iran has moved drones and short-range missiles into Iraq.