The United States Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, made a surprise visit to Iraq on Sunday in order to discuss an increase in attacks on US bases by Iran-backed militia groups and ongoing hostilities between Israel and Hamas with Iraqi officials.
The Secretary of State warned Iran and their militias in a statement at Baghdad International Airport that “the attacks and the threats coming from militias that are aligned with Iran are totally unacceptable.”
United States forces have faced numerous attacks both in Iraq and Syria by Iran-backed militia groups since October, with 17 attacks in Iraq and 15 in Syria, totaling at least 32 incidents. You can read more about the attacks here.
“To anyone who might seek to take advantage of the conflict in Gaza to threaten our personnel, here or anywhere else in the region, don’t do it.” Blinken said in his statement.
Blinken further claimed the United States was “not looking for conflict with Iran… but we will do what’s necessary to protect our personnel, be they military or civilian.”
Blinken met with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani and discussed the situation in the Middle East as well as the recent drone and rocket attacks against American forces. Blinken told reporters that the Iraqi leader pledged to help stop the incidents.
Protestors swarmed Baghdad’s Tahrir Square after learning of the arrival of the US official following calls from a religious figurehead for a “peaceful denunciation” of the official’s presence, Rudaw, a Middle Eastern news platform, reports.
Protesters fill Baghdad's Tahrir Square following a call from popular Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr for 'peaceful denunciation' of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken's surprise visit.
?: Rudaw/Screengrab pic.twitter.com/OzlPQNEU85
— Rudaw English (@RudawEnglish) November 5, 2023
Right now, Sadr's supporters are gathering in Tahrir Square in Baghdad, condemning the visit of the US Secretary of State to Baghdad pic.twitter.com/c0ivR56vvh
— yaln?z kurt (@MApodogan) November 5, 2023