Military Action Explored Against Iran After September Baghdad Mortar Attack

The US embassy in Baghdad Iraq seen from across the Tigris river

It isn't clear whether the information compiled by the Pentagon was relayed to the White House or whether Trump was aware of the request, the newspaper said.

"It definitely rattled people", a former senior USA administration official said of the request.

The request by the National Security Council (NSC), which is led by John Bolton, sparked deep concern among Pentagon and State Department officials, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on Sunday, citing current and former U.S. officials.

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.

The decision was prompted by three mortars being fired into a diplomatic quarter in Baghdad in September, the newspaper said.

Garrett Marquis, speaking for the National Security Council responded to the report by stating it 'coordinates policy and provides the president with options to anticipate and respond to a variety of threats'.

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He added: "Sometimes it seems the world has become desensitised to the regime's authoritarianism at home and its campaigns of violence overseas, but the proud Iranian people are not staying silent about their government's many abuses". The three mortars, however, landed in an open lot and nobody was harmed in the attack.

Prior to his appointment, he has often urged for military action against the nation, and has since worked to pull the USA out of the Obama-era nuclear deal with Iran with the support of President Trump.

The Pentagon did agree to come up with options to attack Iran.

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.

Tensions between the USA and Iran have risen significantly ever since Donald Trump's election as President.

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. What worries the Pentagon is that Iran is capable of hitting USA facilities throughout the Middle East. The Iranians could do plenty of damage to us if they chose to retaliate.

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