White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said on Sunday that the Iraqi government should work with the U.S. to combat the threat posed by militia groups on its own soil.
In an interview on “Fox News Sunday” with Shannon Bream, Kirby reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to respond to any attack on U.S. troops “as aggressively as we need to,” when asked about the Iraqi government’s criticism of the U.S. retaliatory strikes on Friday.
“We’ve got to take seriously the attacks on our troops and our facilities. In this case, in Jordan, three Americans were killed, three troops, three families now are grieving,” Kirby told Bream.
“The president’s not going to sit back and idly just take that. We’re going to respond. We’re going to respond as aggressively as we need to,” he added.
Kirby would not get into the details about what the exact discussions were between the United States and the Iraqi governments but said, “There were appropriate notifications and discussions with the Iraqi government. I’ll leave it at that.”
He called on the Iraqi government to assist the U.S.
“But we also want to see the Iraqi government move with more alacrity to help us rid the threat of these militia groups on Iraqi soil. That should be – they should consider a violation of their sovereignty, that these groups are operating with some manner of impunity on Iraqi soil,” Kirby continued.
The interview comes after the U.S. military began its first round of airstrikes on Iranian-backed groups in Syria and Iraq on Friday, in response to an attack on a base in Jordan that killed three American troops and injured about 40 others. A second round of airstrikes, launched by the U.S. and Britain, took place the next day against Houthi rebels in Yemen – a group also backed by Iran.
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Sunday that the U.S. intends to continue launching strikes against the Iranian-backed groups.
“It began with strikes on Friday night, but that is not the end of it. We intend to take additional strikes and additional action to continue to send a clear message that that the United States will respond when our forces are attacked, or people are killed,” Sullivan said Sunday on NBC News’s “Meet the Press.”
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