Published: Mon, October 01, 2018
World News | By Sandy Lane

USA shuts down consulate in Iraq's Basra citing Iranian 'threats'

USA shuts down consulate in Iraq's Basra citing Iranian 'threats'

"I have made clear that Iran should understand that the United States will respond promptly and appropriately to any such attacks", Pompeo said.

The ministry's statement came a day after the U.S. State Department chose to close its consulate in Basra, some 550 km south of the capital Baghdad, blaming Iran for posing security threats to the area.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reiterated a threat to hold Iran directly responsible for any harm or attack on Americans or US facilities in Iraq or elsewhere, "whether perpetrated by Iranian forces directly or by associated proxy militias".

United States officials said the rockets, however, had not impacted the consulate, which is located in the Basra airport compound.

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"We are working closely with our partners in the Government and Security Forces of Iraq to address these threats". No US facilities have been hit in the attacks.

Basra hosts one of three U.S. diplomatic missions in Iraq.

When the USA first occupied Iraq, Washington called the area outside downtown Baghdad the "red zone", because it was so unsafe to Americans.

Some militia leaders in Basra accused protesters of colluding with the US, which has long worked to curb Iranian influence in Iraq. Although some personnel could remain on the diplomatic compound, the move is believed to effectively close the consulate, at least temporarily.

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Earlier, the Iranian Foreign Ministry called USA allegations of inciting violence in Basra "astonishing, provocative and irresponsible".

Iraq's Foreign Ministry said it regretted the decision and urged foreign diplomats not to pay attention to "what is being circulated to undermine the climate of security and stability accompanying Iraq's relations with the countries of the world". Neighbouring Iran is the other major outside power present in Iraq, alongside bitter foe the United States which led the 2003 invasion that toppled veteran dictator Saddam Hussein.

Basra is home to more than two million people and has witnessed violent protests over the past few weeks as protesters set alight government and political buildings, including the Iranian consulate and the headquarters of an Iran-backed paramilitary force, after a number of people were killed in clashes with police.

In the 1980s, the US-backed government of Iraq fought a long and bloody war against Iran that ended in a stalemate.

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Responding to Trump's comments on Wednesday, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said that the United States is the problem: an isolated violator of global laws led by a team of political and diplomatic novices that is earning the world's disapproval.

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