US President Donald Trump warned Iran on Wednesday of a “heavy price” if it or its allies in Iraq attack US troops stationed there.
During a press briefing at the White House, Trump said, “We don’t want hostility, but if they are hostile to us, they’re going to regret it like they’ve never regretted anything before”.
Earlier in the day, Trump took to Twitter, saying “If this happens, Iran will pay a very heavy price, indeed!”
“Upon information and belief, Iran or its proxies are planning a sneak attack on US troops and/or assets in Iraq”, he further posted.
Upon information and belief, Iran or its proxies are planning a sneak attack on U.S. troops and/or assets in Iraq. If this happens, Iran will pay a very heavy price, indeed!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 1, 2020
On Monday, the US has renewed sanctions waivers on Iran that allowed foreign companies to continue work at Iranian nuclear facilities to keep Tehran from developing nuclear weapons amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The US and Iran are locked in a tense battle for influence in Iraq, where Tehran has powerful allies, including among armed militias, and Washington has close ties to the government.
The attacks, which the US has blamed on an Iran-backed armed group, have prompted fears of a proxy war on Iraqi soil.
Earlier on Wednesday Iran hit out at US sanctions, as its own virus death toll passed 3,000.
Tehran has repeatedly called on Washington to reverse its policy, which has been opposed by US allies, particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Iran is among the countries that have been severely hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, but the US has shown little willingness to ease its notorious “maximum pressure” against Tehran
Iran President Hassan Rouhani accused Washington of missing a “historic opportunity” to lift sanctions.
“This was a humanitarian issue. No one would have blamed them for retreating,” he said.
Medicines and medical equipment are technically exempt from the US sanctions but purchases are frequently blocked by the unwillingness of banks to process purchases for fear of incurring large penalties in the United States.
The coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic infected 905,279 people worldwide and increased the death toll to 45,371 on Wednesday even as the head of the United Nations has described this crisis as humanity’s worst since World War II.
The US has recorded the highest numbers of cases worldwide at 199,092 including 4,361 deaths. Italy has a total of 110,574 positive cases including 13,155 deaths, the highest fatalities globally. Spain followed Italy with 102,136 cases and 9,053 deaths.