Iran should be held accountable for missile attack: US State Dept

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US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said on Monday the Iranian regime should be held accountable for launching ballistic missiles against US military and coalition forces in Iraq last week, during an interview with Al Arabiya.

“These ballistic missiles were in defiance of [UN Security Council Resolution] UNSCR 2231. There needs to be some real accountability for the fact they’re openly defying UN Security Council resolutions,” Ortagus told Al Arabiya.

UN Security Council Resolution 2231, part of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, includes a “snapback” mechanism for UN sanctions if Iran is found to be in “significant non-performance” with the agreement.

Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles against US military and coalition forces in Iraq on Wednesday that targeted at least two Iraqi military bases hosting US military and coalition personnel.

Iranian state television said the operation’s name was “Marytr Soleimani,” in reference to top Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani, who was killed on January 3 in Baghdad by a US drone strike.

Ortagus said that Soleimani was planning attacks on American facilities and that he had a “pattern of behavior of traveling to foment terrorism in Iraq,” citing the December 31 siege by Iran-backed militias on the US embassy in Baghdad as evidence.

Ortagus also called for an independent international investigation into Wednesday’s Ukrainian plane attack in Tehran that killed all 176 people on board. Iran admitted on Saturday it mistakenly shot down the plane, after denying it for days.

“Our hope is that the regime is feeling so much pressure from the international community for their behavior for the downing of the plane that they will allow these international investigators to come in. The next step needs to be for independent international investigators to come in and get to the bottom of what happened,” said Ortagus.

“All the incredibly poor innocent family members who just needlessly saw their family members taken off the planet due to that missile launched into that plane. They all deserve answers and we stand behind them,” added Ortagus.

Ortagus said US President Donald Trump’s tweet to the Iranian people in Farsi over the weekend has been received well and that the Trump administration is using its “very big platform” to “shine a light around the world” on regimes committing human rights abuses.

“One of the things that President Trump and [Defense] Secretary Pompeo are doing is making sure to use our platform to let the regime know that if you kill your innocent peaceful protesters, if you imprison them, if you turn off the internet - we are going to shine a light around that,” said Ortagus.

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