White House asked for options to strike Iran, reports WSJ

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But they triggered unusual alarm in Washington, where Mr. Trump's national security team led by John Bolton conducted a series of meetings to discuss a forceful American response, including what many saw as the unusual request for options to strike Iran.

The request, which hasn't been previously reported, came after militants fired three mortars into Baghdad's sprawling diplomatic quarter, home to the U.S. Embassy, on a warm night in early September.

"It definitely rattled people", a former senior administration official told the paper. No one was harmed by the explosions, which landed in a vacant lot, and there was little media attention given the relative frequency of such attacks on Green Zone.

Before joining the Trump administration, Bolton argued repeatedly that the United States should attack Iran and had supported regime change in the country.

Officials said the Pentagon did develop options for striking at Iran, but it was not clear if the White House, or President Trump himself, received or knew about the request, or if a serious strategy was being considered.

There was also an air strike near a US diplomatic facility in Basra, Iraq.

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

In one NSC meeting, then deputy national security advisor Mira Ricardel called the attacks in Iraq an "act of war" and called for a decisive USA response.

While Bolton's approach has seen him butt heads with a number of people in Trump's Cabinet - most notably former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis - he has found an ally in Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

After the attack in Baghdad, the White House warned that "the United States will hold the regime in Tehran accountable for any attack that results in injury to our personnel or damage to United States government facilities".

"America will respond swiftly and decisively in defence of American lives". National security advisor John Bolton, a known Iran hawk, has pressed for regime change in the Islamic republic.

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