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UK brings clarity to general's Iran comments

Defense Ministry says UK has been clear about Iran's behavior in region

Ahmet Gürhan Kartal   | 15.05.2019
UK brings clarity to general's Iran comments

LONDON 

The U.K. has long been clear about concerns over Iran’s destabilizing behavior in the Middle East, the Defense Ministry said Wednesday in a bid to clarify recent comments by a British general.

"Maj. Gen. [Chris] Ghika speaks as a military officer in the US-led Coalition focused on the fight against Daesh in Iraq and Syria," a statement from the ministry said.

“His comments are based on the day-to-day military operations and his sole focus is the enduring defeat of Daesh,” it added.

The ministry underlined that Ghika made clear in the Pentagon briefing that "there are a range of threats to American and Coalition forces in this part of the world. There always have been, that is why we have a very robust range of force protection measures.”

The statement came after the U.S. openly rebuked the general’s challenge to their claims that Iran-backed groups are in preparation of attacks against Western assets in the Middle East.

Ghika, the deputy commander of Operation Inherent Resolve - the US-led coalition against Islamic State, another name for Daesh, said upon questions from reporters on Tuesday that “there's been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria".

"We're aware of their presence, clearly, and we monitor them, along with a whole range of others because that's the environment we're in," he said in a Pentagon briefing via video link from Baghdad.

However, a statement from a Pentagon representative stressed the alleged threat later on.

"Recent comments from OIR's Deputy Commander run counter to identified credible threats available to intelligence from US and allies regarding Iranian-backed forces in the region," said Capt. Bill Urban in a statement.

The U.S. administration has alleged that Iran is in preparation to mount attacks on U.S. assets across the region.

The Donald Trump administration has sent an aircraft carrier strike group, a squadron of B-52 bombers, and a battery of patriot missiles to the region, adding into already high regional tensions.

The U.S. on Wednesday has also ordered the departure of non-emergency embassy employees from Iraq.

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