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Iran, US Heat Up War of Words

Iran, US Heat Up War of Words

Thursday, 2 April, 2020 - 16:15
US soldiers stand guard during the hand over ceremony of Qayyarah Airfield to Iraqi Security Forces, in the south of Mosul, Iraq early Friday, March 27, 2020. (AP Photo/Ali Abdul Hassan)
Asharq Al-Awsat

Iran said Thursday it "only acts in self-defense" after President Donald Trump warned it against attacks on US troops in Iraq, as a new war of words heated up despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Tensions between the arch-foes flared in Iraq where the United States deployed Patriot air defense missiles prompting Iran to warn of consequences and demand a US withdrawal, Agence France Presse reported.

Both countries have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Unlike the US -- which surreptitiously lies, cheats & assassinates -- Iran only acts in self-defense," Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted.

"Don't be misled by usual warmongers, AGAIN," he said, addressing US President Donald Trump.

"Iran starts no wars but teaches lessons to those who do," he added.

Trump warned Iran on Wednesday that it would pay a "heavy price" in the event of further attacks on US troops.

He tweeted that "upon information and belief, Iran or its proxies are planning a sneak attack on US troops and/or assets in Iraq."

In response, Zarif wrote on Twitter that "Iran has FRIENDS: No one can have MILLIONS of 'proxies.'"

Iran responded angrily to the US Patriot deployment warning that Washington risked leading the Middle East to disaster in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Bases in Iraq housing US troops and foreign embassies, particularly the American mission, have been targeted in more than two dozen rocket attacks since October that Washington has blamed on Iran-backed armed groups.

Tensions escalated in January when the US killed Iran's Major General Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike near Baghdad airport.

Iran retaliated by firing at bases in Iraq housing US troops.

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