United States officials told The Wall Street Journal on Thursday that they had intercepted correspondence between Iran and Shiite militias in Iraq, indicating that both groups were planning responses should the U.S. take military action in Syria.
The fear of Iraqi militia attacking the American embassy or other interests in Baghdad is just one of the various locations of threats to American interests. Officials are also wary of a showdown with Iranian watercraft in the Persian Gulf, as well as the potential for Hezbollah to attack the embassy in Beirut.
The escalating tensions against Syria have provoked responses throughout the region, including threatened retaliation against Israel should the United States take action and causing a substantial spike in terrorist activity in Iraq:
Israel has so far been the focus of concerns about retaliation from Iran and its Lebanese militant ally Hezbollah. The commander-in-chief of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard Corps said last week that an attack on Syria would lead to the "destruction of Israel."
The State Department issued a new alert on Thursday warning against nonessential travel to Iraq and citing terrorist activity "at levels unseen since 2008." Earlier this year, an alert said that violence against Americans had decreased. That reassurance was dropped from the most recent alert.