Senior State Department Officials On U.S. Airstrikes in Iraq and Syria

MODERATOR:  Hey, everybody.  Thanks for joining us.  Happy New Year, happy 2020.  I have a couple of people that all of you know very well.  On the phone, we have [Senior State Department Official One], [Senior State Department Official Two], and we have [Senior State Department Official Three].  We will, of course, allow for time for question and answers.

And I think what I’m going to do is just turn it over right away to [Senior State Department Official One] and let him give some opening statements.  But if you have specific questions on Syria, we have [Senior State Department Official Two], and we have [Senior State Department Official Three] for Iraq questions.  And of course, [Senior State Department Official One] can answer everything Iran-related.

Okay, [Senior State Department Official One].

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE:  All right, sorry, it was on mute.  Thank you, [Moderator], and thanks everybody for joining us.  I think it’s essential to understand that the strikes that the President ordered yesterday, those are – it was a defensive action designed to protect American forces and American citizens in Iraq, but it is also aimed at deterring Iran.

It is clear that under the nuclear deal, Iran was able to run and finance an expansionist foreign policy, and we are trying to restore deterrence against Iran’s regional aggression, against its missile proliferation around the region that finds its way into conflicts, as we have seen recently in Iraq.