Iran's Zarif: Intelligence from Iraq shows Trump aims to fabricate 'pretext for war'

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Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Thursday that intelligence from Iraq indicated outgoing US President Donald Trump aiming to fabricate a "pretext for war."

"Instead of fighting COVID-19 in US, Donald Trump and cohorts waste billions to fly B52s and send armadas to OUR region," Zarif wrote on Twitter. "Intelligence from Iraq indicate plot to FABRICATE pretext for war," he said.

US aircraft carrier USS Nimitz has been patrolling Gulf waters since late November and two American B-52 bombers recently overflew the region.

"Iran doesn't seek war but will OPENLY and DIRECTLY defend its people, security and vital interests," he added.

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Zarif's comments come days ahead of the first anniversary of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani's assassination in US drone strike in Baghdad on January 3.

Trump said last week said he would hold "Iran responsible" for any fatal attack on Americans in Iraq after accusing Tehran of being behind a rocket strike on the US embassy in Baghdad on December 20.

Zarif at the time warned the US president against any "adventurism" before leaving the White House on January 20, and said "putting your own citizens at risk abroad won't divert attention from catastrophic failures at home".

The US embassy in Iraq and other foreign military and diplomatic sites have been targeted by dozens of rockets and roadside bomb attacks since later 2019.

Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from a landmark nuclear deal with Iran and world powers in 2018 and launched a "maximum pressure" campaign against Tehran, reimposing and reinforcing crippling sanctions.

The two countries have twice come to the brink of war since June 2019, especially following the killing of Soleimani.

- With AFP

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