U.S. Defence Secretary Mark Esper on Thursday said there were indications Iran or the forces it backs may be planning additional attacks.
“There are some indications out there that they may be planning additional attacks, it`s nothing new, we’ve seen this for two or three months now.
“If that happens then we will act and by the way, if we get word of attacks or some type indication, we will take preemptive action as well to protect American forces to protect American lives,” Reuters quoted Esper as saying.
Washington said the air strikes, which killed 25 people, were in retaliation for missile attacks that killed a U.S. contractor in northern Iraq recently.
The protests marked a new turn in the shadow war between Washington and Tehran playing out across the Middle East.
“The game has changed and we are prepared to do what is necessary to defend our personnel and our interests and our partners in the region,” Esper said.
During the same news briefing, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley said there had been a sustained campaign by Kataib Hezbollah against U.S. personnel since October and the missile attack in northern Iraq was designed to kill.
“Thirty-one rockets aren’t designed as a warning shot, that is designed to inflict damage and kill,” Milley said.