WASHINGTON (Dispatches) -- U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Iraq’s prime minister that the United States would take respond with force if attacked, according to a statement on Monday after a rocket attack on an Iraqi base that houses American troops.
Pompeo spoke to Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi on Sunday, a day after three American troops and several Iraqi forces were wounded in the second major rocket attack in the past week on an Iraqi base north of Baghdad, U.S. and Iraqi officials said, raising the stakes in an escalating cycle of attacks.
He said Iraq’s government should defend U.S. troops, according to the statement from State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus.
Iraq’s Joint Operations Command said 33 Katyusha rockets were launched near a section of the Taji base which houses U.S. troops. It said the military found seven rocket launchers and 24 unused rockets in the nearby Abu Izam area.
The Iraqi military said several Iraqi air defense servicemen were critically wounded. Two of the three wounded U.S. troops are seriously injured and are being treated at a military hospital in Baghdad, the Pentagon said.
Pompeo’s threat came after the Iraqi government summoned U.S. and British ambassadors to Baghdad on Friday over a string of American airstrikes which killed six members of the Iraqi army police and a civilian.
An Iraqi spokesman said Foreign Minister Mohamed Ali al-Hakim held an emergency meeting to discuss "measures regarding the recent American aggression”.
The Iraqi government has said it will take its complaint over the U.S. aggression to the United Nations.
The U.S. airstrikes came after multiple rockets have struck U.S.-occupied Taji military base in Iraq for the second time in a week.
The attacks were the most provocative since the U.S. assassinated Iran’s top anti-terrorism commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani and Iraq’s PMU commander Abu Mahdi al- Muhandis in an airstrike at Baghdad airport in January.
Iraqi groups have pledged to take revenge for the assassination and ultimately drive out U.S. troops from the country.
After the assassination, the Iraqi parliament voted to expel American troops, prompting President Donald Trump to threaten that the U.S. would seize Iraq’s oil money held in a bank account in New York if it was forced to withdraw.
On Sunday, the head of an Iraqi parliamentary bloc said Iraq will adopt a different position on the presence of U.S. troops on its soil if they refuse to withdraw.
"It is not acceptable to allow violations that lead to the shedding of Iraqi blood,” said Hassan al-Kaabi, the head of the Badr Organization’s parliamentary bloc.