White House asked for options to strike Iran

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Bolton made the request after three mortars were fired into Baghdad's diplomatic zone - where the USA embassy is located - by Iran-affiliated militants, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that following a mortar attack on the US embassy in Baghdad in September that was blamed on Iran, National Security Adviser John Bolton asked the Pentagon for options to strike the Islamic Republic.

A senior administration official told CNN on Sunday that it's not accurate to say the Pentagon and State Department were caught off guard by the request, but would not confirm any other details from the Journal's report.

What was known until now was that Mr Bolton's National Security Council also asked the military to present the White House with options for striking Iran as a way of countering Tehran's influence in the region.

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The White House in Washington, US, November 6, 2018.

An unnamed "former senior US administration official" said the request "definitely rattled people". The three mortars, however, landed in an open lot and nobody was harmed in the attack.

Two days later, unidentified fighters fired three rockets that hit close to the United States consulate in the southern city of Basra but caused no serious damage. "People were shocked. It was mind-boggling how cavalier they were about hitting Iran".

The request, which could lead to direct military confrontation between Iran and the United States, raised concern in the Pentagon.

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"The Department of Defense is a planning organization and provides the president military options for a variety of threats", Colonel Rob Manning, a Pentagon spokesman, told AFP.

'We continue to review the status of our personnel following attempted attacks on our embassy in Baghdad and our Basra Consulate, ' Marquis continued, 'and we will consider a full range of options to preserve their safety and our interests'.

Former US officials said it was unnerving that the NSC asked for such far-reaching military options in response to attacks that caused little damage and no injuries.

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