A missile from an unknown source landed less than one mile from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad Sunday night amid already high tensions between the U.S and Iran.
The missile landed in Baghdad’s Green Zone, where many diplomatic and governmental buildings are located. The impact resulted in only minor destruction to the area, lightly damaging a nearby building used by security guards, according to an official in the interior ministry.
Iraq-based militia groups known to have close diplomatic and ideological ties to Iran have now attempted to distance themselves from the strike, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Pro-Iran paramilitary group, Kataib Hezbollah, commented on the attack calling it unjustified and not in the public interest, according to WSJ.
Paramilitary commander and politician, Hadi al-Ameri, who represents several pro-Iran militia groups, similarly denounced the attack, Monday.
“If war is ignited, everyone will be burned,” he told the WSJ.
President Donald Trump tweeted just after the incident, “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!”
If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 19, 2019
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted in response to President Trump, saying, “Goaded by #B_Team, @realDonaldTrump hopes to achieve what Alexander, Genghis & other aggressors failed to do. Iranians have stood tall for millennia while aggressors all gone. #EconomicTerrorism & genocidal taunts won’t “end Iran”.”
Goaded by #B_Team, @realdonaldTrump hopes to achieve what Alexander, Genghis & other aggressors failed to do. Iranians have stood tall for millennia while aggressors all gone. #EconomicTerrorism & genocidal taunts won’t “end Iran”. #NeverThreatenAnIranian. Try respect—it works!
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) May 20, 2019
Iraqi politician Ayad Allawi said the missile could have been fired by undisciplined, “trigger happy” groups in the militias or was possibly meant as an intentional message to the U.S. and Iraq.
“Regardless of the reason, it’s alarming,” he said.
“It only causes an escalation,” he continued.
Security analyst at Horizon Client Access, Alex Mello, said the missile strike appeared to be a “carefully calibrated move to test the parameters of what the Iran-backed groups can still get away [with]…without triggering another U.S. escalatory response.”
“It seems designed to get U.S. officials scratching their heads over how to respond,” Mello continued.
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