The US military said it's putting its fight against ISIS on pause as it faces new threats from Iran as well as pushback from Iraqi officials against its "assassination" of a top Iranian leader.
A statement from the US-led coalition fighting ISIS on Sunday cited the recent attacks by an Iran-backed militia that left Iraqi security forces and an American civilian dead.
"Our first priority is protecting all Coalition personnel," the statement said, adding that training and support operations in the fight against ISIS would be paused.
ISIS has terrorized the region for years, as well as inspiring deadly attacks in the US and around the world. Though President Donald Trump in October claimed the group had been "defeated 100%," he later walked back that statement as Republicans and Democrats stressed the need to continue military operations against ISIS fighters who had found safe haven in remote parts of Iraq.
Sunday's announcement of a US military pause came the same day as new threats from Iran of retribution against the US for its killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, a top Iranian military commander who directed bloody conflicts around the Middle East, in a drone strike near the Baghdad airport. In an interview with CNN, the military adviser to Iran's supreme leader promised Iran would take direct action against US military sites.
"It was America that has started the war. Therefore, they should accept appropriate reactions to their actions," Maj. Gen. Hossein Dehghan told CNN.
Trump responded in a tweet, announcing to Congress that if Iran did strike, the US would strike back again — potentially harder. (Under US law, the president must notify Congress of any armed military action within 48 hours if Congress hasn't already authorized it. That notification has never before been made by a tweet.)