Kirby apologizes for falsely claiming Iraqi leaders were warned ahead of strikes

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White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby apologized Tuesday for falsely claiming last week that Iraqi officials were notified before a series of coordinated airstrikes.

Kirby initially claimed Friday that the bombing of targets related to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) inside Iraqi borders was communicated to national leaders beforehand.

He was forced to retract this claim after State Department deputy spokesman Vedant Patel confirmed this was not accurate and that Iraqi leaders were not informed until after the strikes.

BIDEN DEFENDS ORDER TO ATTACK IRAQ, SYRIA, USING WAR POWERS RESOLUTION AND AUTHORIZATIONS FROM 2001 AND 2002

John Kirby at WH briefing

John Kirby, National Security Council spokesman, during a news conference in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House. (Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

“Iraq, like every country in the region, understood that there would be a response after the deaths of our soldiers. As for this specific response on Friday, there was not a pre-notification,” Patel told the press on Monday. “We informed the Iraqis immediately after the strikes occurred.”

Kirby released a statement about the confusion the same day, saying he was going off “information that I had been provided at the time.”

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In a Tuesday press conference, Kirby opened by speaking at length about the false claim.

Airstrike Middle East

U.S. launches airstrikes in western Iraq.

“I’m sure many of you saw the statement that I issued yesterday correcting what I had said Friday night about pre-notification to Iraqi officials on Friday night before the strikes that we took on facilities related to the Iran-backed militia groups,” Kirby told the press. “And I deeply apologize for the error, and I regret any confusion that it caused. It was based on information we had or that it was provided to me in those early hours after the strikes. Turns out that information was incorrect. And I certainly regret the error.”

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“And I hope that you’ll understand there was no ill intent behind it, no deliberate intent to deceive, to be wrong. I take those responsibilities very, very seriously. And I deeply regret the mistake that I made.”

The strikes come in response to the deaths of three U.S. service members last Sunday on a U.S. base in Jordan.

The White House stressed Friday evening that the United States is “not looking for a war with Iran,” saying the retaliatory strikes carried out in Syria and Iraq were designed to “de-escalate” tensions and “put an end” to attacks on U.S. troops in the region.

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A drone attack late Sunday evening that struck a military base in eastern Syria, where U.S. troops are stationed, left at least six allied Kurdish soldiers dead, officials said.

Militia fighters have been carrying out assaults on U.S. forces and civilian targets in the region since the breakout of the Israel-Hamas war in October.

Fox News Digital’s Brooke Singman contributed to this report.

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