Thursday, 1 October, 2020 – 16:45
FILE PHOTO – People enter the State Department Building in Washington, US, January 26, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
The United States will not hesitate to act to protect its personnel in Iraq, where it considers Iranian-backed militias that have attacked US targets to be the country’s “single biggest problem,” a senior State Department official said on Thursday.
David Schenker, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, issued the warning when asked during a briefing about US threats to close its embassy in Baghdad.
He declined to comment on what he called Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s “private diplomatic conversations” but added, “We can’t tolerate the threats to our people, our men and women serving abroad.”
Schenker did not confirm or deny a reported US threat to withdraw its troops and close its embassy in Baghdad unless the attacks against them stop.
He also said the US will continue to impose sanctions on Lebanese individuals allied with Hezbollah or engaged in corruption.
Schenker told reporters that further sanctions remained in play even after Israel and Lebanon announced earlier on Thursday they had agreed on a framework for the coming negotiations on their maritime border dispute.