Blinken Says Threats From Iran-Backed Terrorists “Totally Unacceptable”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken made an unannounced visit to Baghdad on 5th Nov, which followed a trip to the occupied West Bank earlier in the day. During his visit, Blinken met with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohamed Shia al-Sudani. They discussed concerns related to the escalating situation in Israel’s conflict with Hamas. The visit was not pre-announced due to security considerations.
In recent weeks, there have been a series of rocket and drone attacks targeting military bases housing US troops in Iraq. Blinken expressed his strong stance during the visit, stating, “I made very clear that attacks or threats coming from militias aligned with Iran are totally unacceptable.” He emphasized the commitment to taking all necessary steps to protect American personnel.
The US government has attributed these attacks to Iran, and similar incidents have occurred in Syria, targeting American troops there as well. The responsibility for most of these attacks has been claimed by a group known as the “Islamic Resistance in Iraq,” as reported through Telegram channels affiliated with Iraqi factions close to Tehran.
According to data released by the Pentagon on 3rd Nov, there were 17 attacks in Iraq and 12 in Syria between October 17 and November 3, reflecting the ongoing security concerns in the region.
Approximately 2,500 American troops are currently stationed in Iraq, tasked with providing advice and support to their Iraqi counterparts in the ongoing fight against the Islamic State group.
Prime Minister al-Sudani strongly denounced these attacks, and investigations are underway to identify the culprits. He has consistently called for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and has characterized Israel’s military operations in the region as a “genocide” against the Palestinian population.
During his meeting with Secretary Blinken, al-Sudani reiterated the urgent need for a ceasefire and emphasized the importance of containing the crisis to prevent further escalation. It’s worth noting that Iraq does not formally recognize Israel as a state and has close ties with Iran, which, in turn, supports Hamas.
In response to Blinken’s visit, thousands of supporters of influential Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr gathered in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, carrying both Iraqi and Palestinian flags. Some demonstrators burned Israeli and American flags during the protest, which was called for by Sadr’s movement on social media.
Secretary Blinken is currently on a whirlwind tour of the Middle East. His recent travels have taken him to Israel, Jordan, the occupied West Bank, and Cyprus. The United States has condemned Iran’s alleged involvement in the attacks on American troops in Syria. The visit to the region underscores the ongoing diplomatic efforts to address regional security challenges.