The US would like China to use its influence with Iran to reduce regional tensions in the Middle East, the White House said Thursday amid continued attacks on US forces by Iranian proxies.
“We know that the Chinese have more direct lines of communication open to them, and we certainly would encourage them to use those lines to reiterate to the Iranians that we don’t want to see a deepening or an escalation of the conflict in the region,” National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters.
Kirby declined to say if US President Joe Biden conveyed the message to Chinese President Xi Jinping during their first face-to-face meeting in more than a year on Wednesday but reiterated that Washington “would like to see” China use its influence to reduce tensions.
He maintained that if attacks on US troops in the region continue, “we’re going to respond appropriately,” in a “time in a manner of our choosing.”
“We’ve already shown that we’ll take action to go at targets that actually get at the support that these groups are getting from the IRGC,” he said, referring to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.
There have been 55 drone and missile attacks on US forces in Iraq and Syria since Oct. 15 that have resulted in injuries to 59 troops, according to the Pentagon.
The Defense Department has described the injuries as “non-serious,” saying they include traumatic brain injuries, twisted ankles and other minor injuries.
All 59 troops have since returned to duty.
The US has retaliated to the attacks with a series of strikes that have targeted Iran-backed facilities in the region.__The Nation