Iran Suggests U.S. Conspiracy After Mike Pompeo Blames Tehran for Embassy Attack

Iran has condemned the rocket attack on the American embassy in Baghdad on Sunday night, dismissing U.S. suggestions that Tehran was behind the rocket barrage and hinting at an American conspiracy.

At least eight rockets landed in the heavily fortified Green Zone close to the American embassy Sunday night, Reuters reported, injuring at least one Iraqi civilian and causing minor damage to the U.S. diplomatic compound.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo quickly blamed Tehran for Sunday's attack and wished the casualty a speedy recovery.

"We call on all Iraqis to support their government's efforts to reinforce Iraq's sovereignty, to bring to justice those responsible for these reprehensible attacks and ensure that all the currently Iran-backed militias are under state control," Pompeo said in a statement.

The Iraqi military blamed an "outlaw group" for the rocket attack, and said the buildings and cars were damaged as well as one the Iraqi soldier wounded, Reuters reported.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh said Monday that Iran condemns the rocket attack, as did the leader of prominent Iran-backed Iraqi militia group Kataib Hezbollah.

"Attacking diplomatic and residential premises is not acceptable, but the type of attack and its timing and the statement issued by the U.S. Secretary of State show that the timing is very suspicious and they had already prepared a statement to publish," Khatibzadeh told reporters at his weekly press conference, according to the Mehr News Agency.

Khatibzadeh did not elaborate, nor provide any evidence suggesting that the U.S. knew about the rocket attack in advance.

Qais al-Khazali, the leader of Kataib Hezbollah—a group that has long launched attacks against U.S. interests and been the target of American retaliation—said his group was not responsible.

"It is our right to liberate our country and avenge our martyrs, but we specify the time to respond and it is not far away," Khazlai said.

Kataib Hezbollah issued its own statement condemning the rocket attack as uncontrolled" and "a threat to civilian lives."

The embassy is a regular target for Iranian-backed Iraqi militia groups, who are demanding that all U.S. troops leave the country. A collection of militias announced a pause to such attacks in October on the provision that the Iraqi government gives a timetable for American withdrawal.

This truce ended on November 18 with a new rocket strike on the embassy and subsequent other attacks on American supply convoys.

Observers warned the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in November could spark fresh aggression, as could the first anniversary of Major General Qassem Soleimani's assassination in January.

Iranian officials have vowed revenge for both killings. The U.S. assassinated Soleimani shortly after its embassy in Baghdad was stormed by protesters including Iranian-backed militia members. President Donald Trump's administration claimed the killing was needed to prevent more imminent attacks but provided no evidence to support the assertion.

Iran retaliated with ballistic missile attacks on Iraqi military bases hosting American troops, injuring more than 100. Officials have repeatedly promised further retaliation.

After Fakhrizadeh's assassination—blamed on Israel by Iran and unnamed American intelligence officials—the U.S. temporarily withdrew some staff from the embassy in Baghdad.

The Trump Administration has previously warned it may close the facility entirely if the Iraqi government cannot ensure its safety.

Iraq Baghdad US embassy rocket attack damage
This file photo shows a member of the Iraqi security forces inspecting damage outside the Zawraa park in the capital Baghdad on November 18, 2020, after volley of rockets launched towards the U.S. embassy. AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP via Getty Images/Getty