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Iran or its proxies planning ‘sneak attack,’ Trump says

Washington: US President Donald Trump asserted on Wednesday, without citing specific evidence, that Iran or an Iran-backed militia is planning a "sneak attack" on US troops or assets in Iraq and warned that Iran would "pay a very heavy price" if it were carried out.

Official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks in a meeting in Tehran, Iran.Credit:AP

The saber rattling from Trump comes as Iran-backed militias are becoming more audacious in attacking US personnel in Iraq, with rocket strikes against military bases occurring more frequently and, for the first time, in broad daylight.

US officials say they are receiving near-daily reports of "imminent" attacks planned against US-linked military or diplomatic facilities.

"Upon information and belief, Iran or its proxies are planning a sneak attack on US troops and/or assets in Iraq," Trump said in his tweet, without providing elaboration. "If this happens, Iran will pay a very heavy price, indeed!"

The tensions come amid a coronavirus pandemic that has increasingly occupied Trump and taken a particularly hard toll on Iran at a time when the United States is expanding sanctions against the country.

It remains unclear how much control Iran maintains over its various proxy groups.

Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker told reporters last month that the United States would "take what steps that we see necessary" to retaliate for militia violence. But the administration remains divided over how, or even when, to strike back.

The Washington Post

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