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U.S. actions have prevented Iranian attacks on Americans, Shanahan says

May 21, 2019

The Trump administration’s aggressive actions to curb reported threats against U.S. forces in the Middle East have worked to deter Iran, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said Tuesday, indicating the White House and Pentagon may pare back its forceful measures against Tehran.

Mr. Shanahan cited the decision to deploy the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group, along with an Air Force bomber task force, into the region was a prudent and ultimately successful response to the increased threat signals posed by Iran.

“I think our steps were very prudent and we have put on hold the potential for attacks on Americans.” Mr. Shanahan told reporters at the Pentagon ahead of a bilateral meeting Tuesday with presidents of Freely Associated States of Palau, Micronesia and the Marshall Islands.

“Our prudent response I think has given Iranians time to recalculate, I think our response was a measure of our will and our resolve,” he said.

Mr. Shanahan, who was tapped by the White House to officially become the new Pentagon chief earlier this month, said the lack of action against U.S. forces by Iranian proxies in the Middle East was proof the administration’s actions were effective.

There haven’t been any attacks on Americans. I would consider that a hold,” Mr. Shanahan said. “That doesn’t mean that the threats that we’ve previously identified have gone away,” he added.

His comments came just days after U.S. military and diplomatic outposts in Baghdad’s Green Zone were the target of a rocket attack. The Katyusha rocket landed near the parade grounds inside the heavily-fortified area, which is home to the U.S. embassy as well as the main headquarters for the American-led coalition battling the Islamic State.

Top officials with the country’s Counter Terrorism Services told the Daily Beast on Monday that the Iranian-backed militia Kataib Hezbollah was responsible for the strike.

The Shi’ite militia denied the accusations in a statement on social media on Monday, saying Sunday’s rocket attack was “unjustified, its timing inappropriate, and it does not serve the public interest.”

Other Shia militias affiliated with Iran also vehemently denied any involvement on the Green Zone strike.

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