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Iran ‘Strongly Refutes’ Pompeo’s ‘Irresponsible’ Remarks on Embassy Attack

Iran ‘Strongly Refutes’ Pompeo’s ‘Irresponsible’ Remarks on Embassy Attack
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By Staff, Agencies

Iran dismissed “irresponsible” remarks by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo regarding a recent rocket attack against the US embassy in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, saying the accusations are meant to stoke tensions and that Washington’s military presence is the “source of instability” in the region.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh made the remarks in a Monday tweet in response to an offensive post on Twitter in which Pompeo accused Iran-backed groups of being behind the recent rocket attack on the highly fortified Green Zone and the US Embassy in Baghdad.

Pompeo claimed that the attack had wounded an unspecified number of Iraqi civilians and that such "destabilizing actions" must cease.

The rockets, which were fired late on Sunday, landed close to the US diplomatic mission, causing sirens blaring within the compound without any casualties apart from some material damage.

“We strongly refute [US] Secretary [of State Mike] Pompeo's irresponsible anti-Iran accusations, which blatantly aim to create tension,” Khatibzadeh said, adding, “Iran rejects any attack on diplomatic missions.”

He went on to say that, “The US military presence is the source of instability in our region. No amount of spin can divert blame for its evils.”

Following the attack, Reuters quoted the Iraqi military as saying in a statement that an "outlaw group" had fired rockets at Baghdad's Green Zone.

The rockets hit a residential complex inside the Green Zone, damaging buildings and cars, but causing no casualties, the statement added.

The US Embassy has been targeted several times this year, amid heightened anti-American sentiments in the Arab country in the aftermath of the US assassination of Iran’s anti-terror commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, and the deputy head of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Units, Hajj Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, in Baghdad on January 3.

The US has drawn down staff members at the embassy this month ahead of the first anniversary of the assassination. US officials said the decision stemmed from concerns about a possible retaliatory strike.

In September, Washington warned Iraq that it would close its embassy in Baghdad if the government failed to take decisive action to end rocket and other attacks on American and allied interests in the country.

When the US announced the intention to withdraw troops from the country in November, a group of influential resistance groups announced a ceasefire to allow the process to take place safely.