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Iran will ‘pay big price’: Donald Trump threatens Baghdad over US embassy attack

Muhandis has been identified as second-in-command of the Tehran-backed Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary group which includes Kataeb Hezbollah, the group that was targeted in the US airstrikes.

SNS | New Delhi |

US President Donald Trump warned Tehran it would “pay a very big price” after a mob of pro-Iranian demonstrators stormed the American embassy compound in Iraq, as his government said that it is sending hundreds more troops to the Middle East.

Angered by US airstrikes that left two dozen paramilitary fighters dead on Sunday,

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the attack was “orchestrated by terrorists,” one of whom he named as Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

Muhandis has been identified as second-in-command of the Tehran-backed Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary group which includes Kataeb Hezbollah, the group that was targeted in the US airstrikes.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said around 750 troops from a rapid response unit of the 82nd Airborne Division are prepared to deploy over the next several days to the region.

Esper’s announcement is the latest move by Washington to step up its defences in the region since US President Donald Trump in May 2018 pulled out of a multinational nuclear deal with Iran and re-imposed crippling economic sanctions.

President Trump took to Twitter and blamed Tehran for the embassy attack, saying, “Iran will be held fully responsible for lives lost, or damage incurred, at any of our facilities”.

“They will pay a very BIG PRICE! This is not a Warning, it is a Threat”, Trump further posted.

In response to that, Iraq has announced that it would summon the American Ambassador in Baghdad.

It asserted that Iraq, as an independent country, will not allow its land to be a battlefield, or to be a passage to carry out attacks on others, according to the statement.

The US Ambassador in Baghdad will be summoned to be informed of Iraq’s stance, and Iraq will discuss with the European partners in the international coalition against the Islamic State (IS) “to come out with a unified position regarding the mechanisms of work and the future presence of the coalition forces in Iraq”, the statement added.

(With inputs from agency)