US Says Attacks on Iraqi Militia a ‘Warning’ to Iran

Pompeo: Trump was 'pretty darn patient' before attack

Following Sunday’s US attacks on Iraqi militia bases in western Iraq and eastern Syria, the US State Department is now saying that the attacks were a “defensive action,” and also were carried out as a “warning” against neighboring Iran.

US officials have struggled with the status of Iraq’s Shi’ite militias, the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), as being part of Iraq’s government security forces. Regularly, US officials refer to them as Iranian forces, particularly when they have attacked them in the past in Syria.

White House officials have been trying to tout the strikes as “successful,” while threatening more attacks going forward. Other than angering all factions in Iraq, as well as the Iranian and Syrian governments, it’s not clear what they accomplished beyond killing a few dozen militia members.

State Department officials appear to have been blind to the fact that Iraqi government officials would see the US attacking their security forces as a threat, and are saying they are “disappointed” by Iraq’s response. Nominally, they’re blaming Ketaib Hezbollah, a PMU group, for attacking a base US troops were at on Friday.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says he thinks Trump was “pretty darn patient” between Friday’s attack and Sunday’s US military operations and had been clear about the intention to conduct such strikes.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.