The director of the CIA says he sent a letter to an Iranian general warning him that Washington will hold Tehran responsible for any attacks on U.S. interests by Iran-backed forces in Iraq.
Director Mike Pompeo on December 2 told a defense forum in Simi Valley, California, that the letter to Qassem Soleimani commander of Iran regime’s terrorist Quds force was never opened but that he wanted to send it because Soleimani had indicated his forces might threaten U.S. interests in Iraq.
"I sent a note. I sent it because he had indicated that forces under his control might in fact threaten U.S. interests in Iraq," Pompeo said. "He refused to open the letter -- didn't break my heart to be honest with you."
Soleimani is commander of the Quds Force, which carries out foreign operations for Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).
Pompeo, an opponent of the 2015 Iranian nuclear accord, told the defense forum that Tehran remains in technical compliance with the agreement, which provided Iran with relief from sanctions in exchange for reining in its nuclear program.
U.S. forces are supporting the Iraqi government in its fight against Islamic State (IS) and other militant groups.
'Time for Militias to Go'
Iran-backed militias and IRGC forces are also supporting the Iraqi government, although the United States, France, and other allies have called for Baghdad to dismantle the militias.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on October 22 said it was time for Iranian military advisers and fighters "to go home and allow the Iraqi people to regain control."
"Iranian militias that are in Iraq, now that the fight against [Islamic State] is coming to a close, those militias need to go home," Tillerson said.
A senior U.S. official said Tillerson’s remarks referred to militia fighters known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) and the Quds Force.
With reporting by AP, Rudaw, and IFP News