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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Iranian-backed militias pose a continuing and significant threat to US troops in Iraq, the State Department's Middle East official said on Thursday, about a week after US President Donald Trump warned of an impending attack by Iran or its proxies.
But David Schenker, assistant secretary of Near Eastern Affairs at the State Department, did not give details about the Iranian threat,
The paramilitary groups have been regularly shelling bases in Iraq that host US troops, and the area around the US embassy in Baghdad.
On Monday, three Katyusha rockets landed near a district in southern Iraq that houses workers for foreign oil companies, including Halliburton. No casualties or damage were reported.
Last week, Mr Trump said Iran or its proxies planned a sneak attack on US targets in Iraq and warned they would pay a "very heavy price" if they went ahead.
US-Iranian relations have been strained Mr Trump's decision nearly two years ago to withdraw from a nuclear deal signed between Tehran and world powers.
He then reimposed US sanctions that have crippled the Iranian economy.
Tension rose further after a US drone strike in Baghdad killed Qassem Suleimani, head of Iran's elite Quds Force, and Abu Mahdi Al Muhandis, chief of Iraq's Kataib Hezbollah militia, on January 3.
This week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington had proposed a "strategic dialogue" with Iraq in June, to try to restore strained bilateral ties.
Mr Schenker, who in March said Washington was "enormously disappointed" by Iraq's lack of protection for US-led coalition forces, repeated that Baghdad must take steps if it wanted to continue its partnership with the US.
"It is on the Iraqis, if they value that relationship, to take certain steps and that includes providing protection to the coalition forces who are in Iraq, if they want those forces to remain," he said.
Updated: April 10, 2020 03:02 AM
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