Mike Pompeo Postpones Trip Amid Tensions In Iraq, U.S. Airstrikes Kill Iranian General Qasem Soleimani
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo postponed a trip to Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Cyprus due to protests at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, according to a State Department official.
The statement, released Wednesday, said that Pompeo will “continue monitoring the ongoing situation in Iraq and ensure the safety and security of Americans in the Middle East.”
After U.S. airstrikes killed dozens of Iran-backed militia fighters, protestors stormed the U.S. Embassy earlier this week, and set fire to a reception area. The protesters have withdrawn from the embassy.
Pompeo’s Jan. 3-7 trip will be rescheduled, although specific dates have not been given yet.
Pompeo said the airstrikes were “a defensive action” after militia rocket fire killed a U.S. defense contractor in Iraq.
The Defense Department said they targeted Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quads Force, in an airstrike early Friday.
The Defense Department blamed Soleimani for approving the attacks on the Embassy, and said he “was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.”
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned that a “harsh retaliation is waiting,” PBS Newshour reported.
Hesameddin Ashena, an adviser to the President of Iran, warned President Donald Trump that Iran would retaliate on social media.
“Trump through his gamble has dragged the U.S. into the most dangerous situation in the region,” Ashena wrote on the app Telegram. “Whoever put his foot beyond the red line should be ready to face its consequences.”