WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on Sunday condemned Iran’s ballistic missile attack on Iraq’s northern Kurdish regional capital of Erbil, and said Washington was working to help Iraq get missile defence capabilities to defend itself.
Sullivan told CBS’s “Face the Nation” program that no U.S. citizens were harmed in the attack, and no U.S. facilities were hit, but the United States would do whatever it takes to defend its people, interests and allies. “We are in consultation with the Iraqi government and the government in Iraqi Kurdistan, in part to help them get the missile defence capabilities to be able to defend themselves in their cities,” Sullivan said.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards claimed responsibility for a dozen ballistic missiles that struck Iraq’s northern Kurdish regional capital of Erbil in the early hours of Sunday, Iran’s state media reported. The missiles targeted the U.S. consulate among other sites, according to the Kurdish regional government. Sullivan, in a subsequent statement released by the White House, said the United States backs Baghdad and governments across the region in the face of threats from Tehran.
“We will support the Government of Iraq in holding Iran accountable, and we will support our partners throughout the Middle East in confronting similar threats from Iran,” he said. Asked about the impact on negotiations over a nuclear agreement with Iran that are already at an impasse, Sullivan said: “The various negotiators are back home in their capitals and we will have to see what happens in the days ahead with respect to the diplomacy around the nuclear deal.” He said President Joe Biden remained strongly committed to stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. “One thing I will say is that the only thing more dangerous than Iran armed with ballistic missiles and advanced military capabilities is an Iran that has all of those things and a nuclear weapon,” he said.
U.S. forces stationed at the Erbil International Airport complex had previously come under fire from rocket and drone that attacks Washington blames on Iran-aligned militia groups, but no such attacks have occurred for several months. The Defence Department referred all queries about Sullivan’s comments on missile defence capabilities to the State Department, which oversees security assistance agreements with other countries.
The State Department had no immediate comment on any new security assistance packages for Iraq.