The Biden administration does not rule out a reaction


A worker cleans broken glass in front of a damaged shop following a missile attack last night in Erbil, capital of the autonomous northern Iraqi Kurdish region, on February 16, 2021.

Safin Hamed | AFP | Getty Images

Tuesday’s Biden administration would not rule out possible retaliation against those behind Monday’s deadly missile attack in Iraq.

The attack in the city of Irbil in the Kurdistan region killed a civilian contractor and injured nine other people, including a US soldier, said 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.

The Biden administration said it would wait to find out who was responsible for the attack before deciding how to respond.

“The President of the United States and the government reserve the right to respond in good time after our election,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Tuesday during a press conference shortly before offering condolences to the deceased.

“But we will wait for the attribution to complete before taking any further steps. I will convey to you that diplomacy is a priority with this government,” added Psaki.

Psaki added that the United States was conducting an investigation to see who was behind the attack.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ned Price said Tuesday that Foreign Minister Antony Blinken spoke to Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani shortly after the attack. Price also said the top US diplomat spoke to Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi on Tuesday.

“Once we have identified a perpetrator, it would be more appropriate to investigate the motive,” said Price when asked about a possible US reaction.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also spoke to Iraqi Defense Secretary Jumaah Saadoon on Tuesday to discuss the attack. The Pentagon said officials reaffirmed their commitment to the strategic partnership between the United States and Iraq.

In 2019, the US attributed a missile attack on the K-1 base near Kirkurk to the Iranian-backed militia group Kataib Hezbollah. The attack sparked a US response that resulted in the death of an Iranian general, Qasem Soleimani.

The attack comes as the most powerful military alliance in the world, NATO, virtually meets on Wednesday and Thursday to discuss next steps in the Iraqi region.