GOP veteran congressmen demand DOD, State Dept. respond to Iran attacks on US interests in Iraq
FIRST ON FOX: A pair of veteran Republican congressmen demanded the Department of Defense (DOD) and State Department respond to recent Iranian attacks on U.S. interests in Iraq.
GOP Reps. Guy Reschenthaler of Pennsylvania and Michael Waltz of Florida sent a letter to Biden administration secretaries Lloyd Austin and Antony Blinken calling on them to respond after Iran attacked American interests in Iraq.
Iran fired ballistic missiles and sent armed drones into the Kurdistan region of Iraq Monday, targeting civilian dissidents against the Iranian regime over unrest at home in the Islamic nation.
'As an Iraq War veteran, I deployed to Baghdad and prosecuted nearly 100 terrorists, including 13 death penalty convictions,' Reschenthaler told Fox News Digital. 'I saw firsthand Iran’s malign influence in the country and its terror campaign across the Middle East. I am deeply concerned with the IRGC’s ongoing attacks in northern Iraq, which included the death of an American citizen.
'The lack of response from the Biden Administration to deter this violent extremism negatively impacts our service members, diplomats and NGOs operating in the region,' he added. 'We must stand firm with our regional partners and promptly respond to these terrorist attacks to protect innocent lives.'
'The Biden administration has demonstrated a concerning timidness towards the Iranian regime, hoping more concessions can bring about a new [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action], which Iran has no intention of honoring,' Waltz told Fox News Digital.
'This while the terrorist regime continues to threaten U.S. officials, fire rockets at our Kurdish allies and brutally repress its own people,' the former Green Beret added. 'American policy should be to restore a maximum pressure campaign to stop the regime’s belligerent behavior.
'The Biden strategy towards Iran has failed, and it's time to switch course immediately.'
In the letter exclusively obtained by Fox News Digital, the pair of veteran lawmakers called on the DOD and State Department to 'respond against these Iranian threats to deter future attacks and protect our regional interests.'
'These violations of Iraq’s sovereignty target innocent civilians, jeopardize U.S. forces operating lawfully in the region, and sadly, resulted in the death of an American citizen,' the lawmakers wrote in the letter.
'Combined with the Iranian regime’s efforts to fund and direct violent extremist organizations, transfer lethal weapons to Russia, and develop nuclear capabilities, we strongly urge the Administration to act swiftly in order to deter future attacks and protect U.S. personnel operating in the region.'
The veteran lawmakers pointed to the March 13 attack of 'approximately a dozen ballistic missiles into the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI)' launched from inside Iran that 'landed near a U.S. consulate building in Erbil, hit Iraqi structures, and injured innocent civilians.'
'As you know, KRI, specifically Erbil Air Base, stations U.S. and partner forces that support critical efforts to destroy radical terrorists and prevent a reemergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria,' Reschenthaler and Waltz wrote.
'We are aware that earlier this year, Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley led an interagency team to the Middle East, where he held consultations with Allies and partners regarding Iran’s destabilizing activities in the region.'
'However, despite Special Envoy Malley’s efforts, these attacks persist,' they continued. 'On September 28, 2022, the IRGC launched at least 70 ballistic missiles into KRI from internal Iran.'
The lawmakers pointed to both the September and Monday attacks, noting the 'ongoing coordinated attacks are an effort to deflect blame amid the growing peaceful protests against the Iranian regime for their brutal murder of an Iranian Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini.'
Amini was a 22-year-old Iranian woman allegedly killed by the radical Islamic regime after being arrested for not wearing her hijab by the correct government standards. Her death sparked protests that have rocked the Middle Eastern Islamic nation.
'This is a clear signal from the Iranian regime that they have the capabilities to target U.S. and partner interests in Iraq without consequences from the Biden Administration,' the lawmakers wrote.
'As Iran continues to sow chaos and destruction in the Middle East, these continued attacks have assaulted Iraq’s sovereignty, threatened U.S forces and ongoing counterterrorism efforts, and killed innocent American and Iraqi civilians. It is deeply concerning that these attacks have not been met with a strong U.S. response, and we believe this will only increase the IRGC’s ongoing terror campaign across the region.'
Reschenthaler and Waltz concluded their letter by calling on the administration to respond to the 'Iranian threats' and warned that without 'responding to these provocations, we risk additional threats to our warfighters, diplomats, and civilians in the region.'
A State Department spokesperson told Fox News Digital the department does not comment on congressional correspondence as a standard practice.
'We strongly condemn Iran’s missile and drone attacks against the Iraqi Kurdistan Region,' the spokesperson said. 'We call on Iran to refrain from further threats against Iraq’s territorial integrity.
'We stand with our partners and the government of Iraq’s objective to preserve the country’s security, stability, and sovereignty.'
The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) of Iran attacked the cities of Erbil and Sulaimaniyah, killing two and wounding eight.
Erbil plays a major role in America’s presence in the region and is a prominent U.S. interest with military personnel based in the city.
The targeted attacks hit the headquarters of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran — which Tehran has banned — and Komala, an Iranian Kurdish Communist Party that is also banned in Iran, according to the groups.
The attack was the second major one against Iraq since the anti-government Iranian protests began two months ago.
The first attack Sept. 28 saw 40 armed drones and ballistic missiles launched at Iraq, killing 18 people — including a U.S. citizen — and injuring as many as 58, per Kurdish officials at that time.
One of the September missiles was aimed at Erbil and was shot down by a U.S. warplane.
The DOD did not respond to Fox News Digital's request for comment.
This post appeared first on FOX NEWS