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Iran Calls U.S. Blame Over Iraq Attacks ‘Astonishing, Provocative’

Iran's Foreign Ministry has described accusations by the United States that Tehran's allies were responsible for recent attacks on U.S. diplomatic missions in Iraq as "astonishing, provocative, and irresponsible," Iranian media report.

The semiofficial ISNA news agency quoted ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi as making the remarks on September 12, the day after the United States warned it would hold Iran accountable for any attack by its proxies and allies that results in injury to its personnel or damage to U.S. government facilities.

"America will respond swiftly and decisively in defense of American lives," the White House said in a statement on September 11.

The warning came after the U.S. Consulate in the southern Iraqi city of Basra was hit by rocket fire on September 8.

A day prior to that, three mortars landed inside Baghdad's Green Zone, where the U.S. Embassy is located.

No casualties or damage was reported in either case, but the mortar attack was the first in several years on the Green Zone.

Qasemi blamed the attacks on U.S. support for "groups that have spread and promoted violence and extremism," ISNA reported.

Basra has seen a surge in deadly protests in the past week, with demonstrators -- angry over corruption and the lack of basic services and jobs in a province that generates much of Iraq's oil wealth -- setting alight government buildings as well as the offices of political parties and militias backed by Iran.

The unrest also saw the Iranian Consulate in the city burnt down, and Iran's ambassador to Iraq on September 11 inaugurated the premises of the new mission.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

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