The New York Times said that the US Department of Defense (Pentagon) issued a directive last week to prepare for a military campaign in Iraq aimed at destroying a Iran-backed militia after it threatened to launch strikes against American forces.

The newspaper quoted the commander of US forces in Iraq, General Robert White, as warning that such a move could be bloody and cause war with Iran.

He added that such a campaign would need to send thousands of American soldiers to Iraq.

The New York Times reported that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and members of the National Security Council supported escalatory steps against Iran, while Pentagon leaders expressed reservations.

The newspaper reported that US Defense Secretary Mark Esper authorized the planning of this military campaign to give President Donald Trump options to respond to Iraqi militias backed by Tehran.