Iranian ambassador in Iraq Iraj Masjedi gives a press conference outside the new Iranian consulate in Basra on September 11, 2018, after the old building was set ablaze by protesters a few days earlier. Photo: AFP/Haidar Mohammed Ali

The US has blamed Iran for an attack on its consulate in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, only days after Iran’s own consulate was set on fire by angry demonstrators.

“Over the past few days, we have seen life-threatening attacks in Iraq, including on the United States consulate in Basra and against the American embassy compound in Baghdad. Iran did not act to stop these attacks by its proxies in Iraq, which it has supported with funding, training and weapons,” read a terse statement from the White House on Tuesday.

“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,” it added.

The US accusation comes as the Trump administration ratchets up pressure on the Islamic Republic through economic sanctions. Former Secretary of State John Kerry told CNN Tuesday his successors were “pursing a policy of regime change.”

Iran’s ambassador to Iraq hours earlier inaugurated a new consulate in Basra after the old building was torched by demonstrators over the weekend.

“We don’t want lose a single day of services for the people of Basra,” AFP quoted Ambassador Iraj Masjedi as saying Tuesday.

Basra has been roiled by deadly unrest this summer as the oil-rich city suffered 15-hour blackouts amid 50 degree temperatures (122 °F).

Demonstrations over decrepit public services and corruption spiked last week when thousands of residents were poisoned by the tap water. Angry protesters took to the streets, setting government buildings, political offices and the headquarters of influential Iranian-backed militias on fire, as well as the Iranian consulate itself.

The US State Department at the time condemned the torching of the Iranian mission as an attack on diplomats, without naming Iran.

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