Saudi Arabia voiced “great concern” Tuesday over attacks against American forces in Iraq, which Washington has blamed on pro-Iran factions, state media reported.
“Saudi Arabia has followed with great concern the increase of terrorist attacks inside brotherly Iraq… the most recent of which were attacks by terrorist militias supported by the Iranian regime against US forces present in Iraq,” the Saudi Press Agency said, citing an unnamed official source.
“Saudi Arabia condemns and denounces these terrorist attacks… These attacks committed by terrorist militias violate the sovereignty of Iraq and affect its security and stability.”
Riyadh and Washington have blamed Iran for September 14 drone strikes that targeted two Saudi oil facilities, temporarily knocking out half of the kingdom’s oil production
In recent weeks multiple attacks have targeted Iraqi bases where American forces are present, which Washington has blamed on pro-Iran factions.
On Sunday, the US-led airstrikes were directed at several bases belonging to the Hezbollah Brigades, one of the most radical factions of Hashed al-Shaabi, a Tehran-backed Iraqi paramilitary coalition.
The strikes “killed 25 and wounded 51,” according to the Hashed, which holds major sway in Iraq.
The attack was in retaliation for the death Friday of a US civilian contractor in Kirkuk in a Hezbollah Brigades rocket attack.
Riyadh is a key ally of US President Donald Trump’s administration against what both countries describe as Iranian expansionism in the Middle East.
Riyadh and Washington have blamed Iran for September 14 drone strikes that targeted two Saudi oil facilities, temporarily knocking out half of the kingdom’s oil production.
In a phone call on Monday, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “agreed that the Iranian regime and its proxies continue to be a destabilizing force in the region and that nations have a right to defend themselves in the face of these threats,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said.
Pompeo “underscored that attacks by the Iranian regime, or their proxies of any identity, that harm Americans, our allies, or our interests will be answered with a decisive response, as demonstrated yesterday.”
Iraq’s government denounced Sunday’s strikes and warned they could affect ties with Washington.
In response, the US has conducted air strikes at 5 facilities allegedly tied to a pro-Iran militant group in Iraq, killing at least 25 fighters, Iraqi security and militia sources said.
The Pentagon said on Sunday it targeted weapons caches or command and control facilities linked to Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH) in Western Iraq, as well as Eastern Syria, in response to a barrage of 30 or more rockets fired on Friday.
Nineteen fighters were killed by the US strikes in western Iraq, while several were wounded, according to an official from the Tehran-backed Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary force.
Another powerful pro-Iran faction, Assaib Ahl al-Haq — whose leaders were recently hit with US sanctions — called for Americans to withdraw from Iraq.
“The American military presence has become a burden for the Iraqi state and a source of threat against our forces,” it said in a statement.
“It is therefore imperative for all of us to do everything to expel them by all legitimate means.”
GVS News Desk with additions from news agencies