June 3, 2023

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price answers a question during a press conference at the Department in Washington on February 9, 2021.

Olivier Douliery | Pool | Reuters

WASHINGTON – The Biden government promised Wednesday that there would be ramifications for those behind the deadly missile attack in northern Iraq earlier this week.

“It is fair to say that there will be consequences for any group responsible for this attack,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters during a briefing.

The attack in the city of Irbil in the Kurdistan region killed one civilian contractor and injured nine others, including a member of the US military, according to Col. Wayne Marotto, spokesman for the coalition against ISIS.

At least three missiles struck near the civilian Irbil International Airport late Monday evening, Kurdish security forces told NBC News. A nearby base houses US troops.

Price’s remarks on Wednesday mark a slight escalation in the Biden subsidiary administration’s stance on the strike. Following the attack, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the government was investigating the area with its allies. When pressing for a possible US response, Psaki said the US “reserves the right to respond in good time after our election”.

“But we will wait for the attribution to be completed before we take any further steps. I will convey to you that diplomacy is a priority in this administration,” she said without giving further details.

The missile attack in Iraq comes as NATO, the world’s most powerful military alliance, meets to discuss coalition-led missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I assume that the ministers will agree to start an expanded mission with more Allied personnel training and consultations in more security institutions across the country,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday.

“The mission is gradually expanding in response to the situation,” said Stoltenberg, adding that NATO members had received requests from the Iraqi government.

The Pentagon is “excited about and welcomes NATO’s increased focus on Iraq,” a senior defense official told reporters ahead of the NATO meeting. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, would not disclose whether the US military would contribute more troops to the fight in Iraq.

The United States has 2,500 soldiers in Iraq and another 2,500 soldiers in Afghanistan.