The Guardian – The US reprisal strikes in Syria and Iraq will have disastrous consequences for the region, the military spokesman for the Iraqi prime minister, Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, has warned. Maj Gen Yahya Rasool’s response was one of many from inside the Iraqi government that furiously condemned a violation of its sovereignty.
The US military launched airstrikes on Friday against more than 85 targets linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and the militias it backs, in retaliation for last weekend’s drone attack in Jordan that killed three US troops. Iraq’s Anbar Operations Command reported 16 fatalities and 25 injuries, but no official death toll has been issued.
Iran claimed the attacks would only hasten the withdrawal of US troops from both countries and insisted that no Revolutionary Guards had been present in the areas struck by US forces, a claim that will be tested in the hours ahead.
Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman, Nasser Kanaani, said it was “an adventurous action and a strategic mistake that will result in increased tension and instability in the region”, adding that the attacks would only lead to the US government becoming “more engaged” in the region than it was before.
The US decision to strike inside Iraq, relayed to the Iraqi government in advance, was always a high risk since political pressure has been mounting in the Iraqi parliament for months to conclude negotiations that end with an agreement for US troops to withdraw.
Initial responses suggested that political pressure on the US would now build, especially if the death toll of 16 inside Iraq started to rise. The relatively low death toll for the size of the attack reflects the warnings the militias received that an attack was imminent.
Bassem al-Awadi, an Iraqi government spokesman, said: “Iraq reiterates its refusal to let its lands be an arena for settling scores, and all parties must realise this. Our country’s land and sovereignty are not the appropriate place to send messages and show force between opponents.
“At the same time, we affirm that the presence of the international coalition, which has deviated from the tasks assigned to it and the mandate granted to it, has become a reason for threatening security and stability in Iraq and a justification for involving Iraq in regional and international conflicts.
“The Iraqi government will make every effort required by moral, national, and constitutional responsibility to protect our land, our cities, and the lives of our children in all types of armed forces.”
The spokesman added that “the US had deliberately tried to deceive public opinion and falsified the facts by claiming there had been prior consultations with the government before the attacks were mounted”.
Britain called the US its “steadfast” ally on Saturday and said it supported Washington’s right to respond to the attacks.
“The UK and US are steadfast allies. We wouldn’t comment on their operations, but we support their right to respond to attacks,” a British government spokesperson said.
“We have long condemned Iran’s destabilising activity throughout the region, including its political, financial and military support to a number of militant groups.”
Iranian sources said there had been no direct contact between Washington and Tehran before the attacks, but messages had been sent via third parties that a US attack on Iranian soil would be viewed differently from attacks on Iraq and Syria.
Rasool, the spokesperson for the commander-in-chief of the Iraqi armed forces, gave details of where the strikes had been launched within Iraq and said on X: “These strikes constitute a violation of Iraqi sovereignty, an undermining of the efforts of the Iraqi government, and a threat that will drag Iraq and the region into unforeseen consequences, the consequences of which will be disastrous for security and stability in Iraq and the region.”
The Iranian backed groups inside Iraq have coalesced into a loose coalition termed Islamic Resistance in Iraq and contain at least six different militia. Kataib Hezbollah, the most powerful of these groups and the one responsible for the drone attack that killed three US soldiers a week ago on the Jordan-Syria border, announced two days ago that it was suspending its operations against US bases. The claim was met with scepticism from the US defence secretary, Lloyd Austin.