Iran accused Washington on Wednesday of dragging the Middle East to a disaster in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic after it deployed Patriot air defense missiles to Iraq. The US deployment runs “counter to the official position of the Iraqi government, parliament and people,” a foreign ministry statement said. It called for a halt to “warmongering during the coronavirus outbreak” and warned that US military activities in the region could lead it to “instability and disaster”.
The Iranian foreign ministry also called on US to respect the wishes of the Iraqi people and government and leave their country. Washington had been in talks with Baghdad about the proposed deployment since January but it was not immediately clear whether it had secured its approval or not, AFP reported. The Patriot is Washington’s principal anti-missile missile system. One of the Patriot batteries was delivered to the Ain al-Asad in western Iraq last week and is now being assembled, a US defense official and an Iraqi military source said.
A second battery was deployed to a base in Arbil, capital of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region. On Monday, Iraq’s caretaker prime minister Adel Abdel Mahdi warned against any “offensive military action without the approval of the Iraqi government.” He did not specifically mention the Patriot deployment.
SOURCE: Asharq Al-Awsat