White House asked for options to strike Iran: source

Published:Monday, January 14, 2019
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FILE PHOTO: Sunset is seen over the White House, on the day of the U.S. midterm election, in Washington, D.C., U.S., November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House’s national security team last fall asked the Pentagon to provide it with options for striking Iran after a group of militants aligned with Tehran fired mortars into an area in Baghdad that is home to the U.S. Embassy, a source familiar with the matter said on Sunday.

The source said that the Pentagon drew up options in response to the request, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal and which originated from the White House National Security Council led by John Bolton.

Citing current and former U.S. officials. The newspaper reported that the request sparked deep concern among Pentagon and State Department officials.

The Wall Street Journal also reported that it was not clear whether the options were provided to the White House, whether President Donald Trump knew of the request or whether serious plans for a U.S. strike against Iran took shape at that time.

The decision was prompted by three mortars being fired into a diplomatic quarter in Baghdad in September, the newspaper said. The shells landed in an open lot and no one was hurt. Two days later, unidentified militants fired three rockets that hit close to the U.S. consulate in the southern city of Basra but caused no serious damage.

The State Department did not comment on the report. The Pentagon said it provides the president options for a variety of threats.

NSC spokesman Garrett Marquis, said the NSC does the same and it will continue to consider “the full range of options” after the attacks.

Reporting by Phil Stewart, Sarah N. Lynch, Doina Chiacu; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Grant McCool

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