After an earlier visit to the occupied West Bank, Blinken landed in Baghdad on Sunday evening for his first visit to the country as the US top diplomat and held talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani.
Blinken will travel to Turkey later on Sunday, where protests were already underway.
Washington wants to prevent a wider regional conflict and has stepped up diplomacy with regional countries whose populations have been angered by Israel’s assault on Gaza.
Blinken landed at Baghdad’s international airport, donned a ballistic vest and traveled by Black Hawk helicopter to the Green Zone, a remnant of the US occupation of Iraq after its 2003 invasion.
Iran-backed Iraqi group Kataib Hezbollah issued a warning on Saturday night that the expected Blinken visit would be met with “an unprecedented escalation”.
Since the start of the Gaza war, a series of rocket and drone attacks have targeted military bases hosting US forces in Iraq.
Iraqi armed groups aligned with Iran have threatened to target US interests with missiles and drones if Washington intervened to support Israel in Gaza.
“It was very important to send a very clear message to anyone who might seek to take advantage of the conflict in Gaza to threaten our personnel here or anywhere else in the region: Don’t do it,” Blinken told reporters after meeting al-Sudani.
Al-Sudani has pledged to pursue the perpetrators of rocket attacks on three military bases in Iraq hosting international coalition advisers, including Ain al-Asad in western Iraq, a military base near Baghdad’s international airport and Harir in the northern Iraqi city of Erbil.
Lebanese group Hezbollah, which like Hamas is backed by US adversary Iran, has carried out strikes on northern Israel. Israeli forces have also bombed Lebanon.
Hezbollah’s leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah issued a warning on Friday, as Blinken arrived in the region, that preventing a regional conflict depended on stopping the Israeli attack on Gaza, and said there was a possibility of fighting on the Lebanese front turning into a full-fledged war.
Source : The New Arab