White House spokesperson apologizes for claiming US warned Iraq before strikes

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White House national security spokesperson John Kirby on Tuesday apologized for initially claiming the U.S. notified Baghdad before major airstrikes in Iraq last week.

Kirby told reporters that he was mistaken when he told reporters last week of a notification to Iraq before the U.S. launched a wave of airstrikes on Iranian-backed militia groups and the Iranian militant wing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

“I deeply apologize for the error, and I regret any confusion that it caused,” Kirby said. “It was based on information we had or that was provided to me in those early hours after the strikes. Turns out that information was incorrect. And I certainly regret the error.”

Kirby added that there was “no ill-intent behind it” and “no deliberate intent to deceive.”

“I take those responsibilities very, very seriously,” he said. “And I deeply regret the mistake that I made.”

The apology comes just one day after the State Department contradicted Kirby’s claim of a pre-notification.

“There was no pre-notification,” State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel told reporters on Monday. “Iraq, like every country in the region, understood that there would be a response after the deaths of our soldiers.”

Instead, Iraq was informed immediately after the strikes, according to Patel.

Kirby made the initial claim during a press call with reporters on Friday, shortly after the U.S. struck more than 85 targets in Iraq and Syria with B-1 bomber planes.

The Hill was on the call when Kirby made the claims in response to inquiries from the press about whether Iran and Iraq were notified of the strikes beforehand.

The dust-up adds to tensions between the U.S. and Iraq over the battling with Iranian-backed militia groups, which broke out across the Middle East in October.

Iraqi and U.S. officials are engaged in ongoing discussions about the future of the American presence in Iraq, which has accused Washington of violating its sovereignty by striking militants in the country.

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