Trump Aides Clash Over Response to Iranian-Backed Attacks in Iraq

Defending American troops from accurate, short-range and easily concealed rockets would require an influx of troops to either defend the perimeter of bases like Taji, or to crew air defense weapons capable of intercepting the rockets.

Iraqi officials already have pushed back on the placement of Patriot missile batteries, installed to help intercept Iranian ballistic missiles like those launched in January at Al Asad Air Base. Adding even more American air defenses could incite another dispute with the Iraqi government.

Last Saturday, after the attack on Camp Taji, General Milley telephoned Gen. Othman al-Ghanmi, the Iraqi Army’s chief of staff, and asked him to crack down on the Shiite militia attacks on American troops. “In accordance with guidance from the president, all options are on the table in order to protect U.S. forces operating in the Middle East and in Iraq,” General Milley said in a telephone interview.

In a statement last Sunday, the State Department said Mr. Pompeo told Iraq’s caretaker prime minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi, in a phone call that Iraq needed to defend American forces in the country and hold accountable the groups that attacked Camp Taji.

In the meantime, administration officials are reviewing an array of additional targets, including more militia weapons depots and logistics storehouses, as well as strikes against militia leaders and possibly Iranian ships. Covert operations and cyberattacks are also under consideration, officials said.

The Pentagon’s top spokesman, Jonathan Hoffman, told reporters on Wednesday that no final decisions had been made. “We still are looking at how we may respond to any type of attack on American forces anywhere in the world, we retain the right to defend ourselves,” he said.

Mark Mazzetti, Helene Cooper, Julian E. Barnes and Eric Schmitt reported from Washington, and Alissa J. Rubin from Baghdad. Thomas Gibbons-Neff contributed reporting from Washington, and Farnaz Fassihi from New York.

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