U.S. defense secretary worried about bombing installations in Iraq: statement

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BAGHDAD, Dec. 16 (Xinhua) — U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Monday told the Iraqi caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi that he is concerned about bomb attacks on some installations and confirmed the need to take measures to stop them.

A statement by his office said that Abdul Mahdi received a phone call from Esper and the two discussed continued cooperation between the two countries in the fight against the terrorism of Islamic State (IS) group.

“The U.S. Secretary expressed his concern that some installations were subjected to bombing and the need to take measures to stop such attacks,” the statement said.

For his part, Abdul Mahdi “demanded that serious efforts to be made by all to prevent escalation that would threaten all parties,” the statement said, warning that “any weakening of the government and the Iraqi state would be encouraging for chaos,” according to the statement.

Abdul Mahdi also warned that “taking unilateral decisions will have negative reactions that are difficult to control and threaten the security, sovereignty, and independence of Iraq,” it added.

The phone call came as several Iraqi military bases with U.S. forces were attacked recently by rockets and mortar rounds by unidentified militant groups in the provinces of Salahudin, Anbar and at the perimeter of Baghdad International Airport, but no casualties among U.S. troops were reported.

On Dec. 14, the U.S. Embassy in Iraq accused Iran’s proxies of carrying out attacks on Iraqi military bases where U.S. troops are stationed.

A statement by the embassy warned “Iran’s leaders that any attacks by them, or their proxies of any identity, that harm Americans, our allies, or our interests will be answered with a decisive U.S. response.”

“Iran must respect the sovereignty of its neighbors and immediately cease its provision of lethal aid and support to third parties in Iraq and throughout the region,” the statement said.

Over 5,000 U.S. troops have been deployed in Iraq to support the Iraqi forces in the battle against Islamic State (IS) militants, mainly providing training and advising to the Iraqi forces.

The troops are part of the U.S.-led international coalition that has been conducting air raids against IS targets in both Iraq and Syria.

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