A U.S. citizen was killed in an Iranian missile and drone attack in northern Iraq on Wednesday, a State Department spokesperson said.
“We can confirm that a U.S. citizen was killed as a result of a rocket attack in the Iraqi Kurdistan region yesterday,” spokesperson Vedant Patel told reporters Thursday.
Patel said the administration was not releasing the name of the American out of privacy concerns, and he did not say how the U.S. would respond.
“I want to reiterate that we condemn Iran’s violations of Iraq’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he added.
In a statement, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said: “We stand with the people and government of Iraq in the face of these brazen attacks on their sovereignty,” he said.
The American’s death was first reported by Iran International, a Persian-language media outlet based in London.
Confirmation that an American was killed will ratchet up tensions between the U.S. and Iran and likely lead to calls from U.S. lawmakers to retaliate.
During Wednesday’s attack, a U.S. F-15 shot down an Iranian drone that posed a potentially serious threat to U.S. troops in the area, a U.S. military spokesperson said.
President Joe Biden previously ordered air raids on Iranian-backed militia outposts in eastern Syria after the groups launched rocket attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq.
The Iranian attack targeted an Iranian Kurdish opposition group in northern Iraq, Kurdish and U.S. officials said. Iran said it launched missile and drone strikes on “terrorist” bases.
Kurdish health officials in Iraq said that the death toll from the assault was at 13 and that civilians at a refugee camp were among the casualties.
Iran has faced massive street protests sparked by the death of an Iranian Kurdish woman in police custody. The woman, Mahsa Amini, 22, was detained and accused of failing to comply with the country’s strict dress code for women, which requires them to cover their hair and wear loose-fitting clothing.
The U.S. accused Iran of trying to deflect blame for the protests by focusing on Kurdish opposition groups in northern Iraq.
Iran, which has staged a series of attacks on Kurdish targets over the past several days, alleged that Kurdish groups have encouraged the demonstrations that have swept across Iran for more than a week.
The protests, the most serious challenge to the regime since 2009, have been marked by unprecedented defiance by Iranian women who have removed and sometimes burned their headscarves in front of large crowds or cut their hair.