Houstonians with ties to Middle East react to U.S. airstrike that killed Iranian general

HOUSTON – Houstonians with family and friends in the Middle East are calling for peace between escalating tension between the United States and Iran.

Aqeel Alazraki, who has family in Iraq, said his family is walking on eggshells after the U.S. killed a top Iranian general in Iraq Thursday. He is also very concerned about what will happen next.

A second airstrike Friday hit two cars carrying Iran-backed militia north of Baghdad, according to an Iraqi official. Five people were killed in the airstrike.

Alazraki said the U.S.-Iran conflict should not involve Iraq. He was concerned that the tensions will affect the entire Middle East region.

“I hope it’s not going to be another Gulf War because we have been in the wars twice,” he said.

Iran vowed, “harsh retaliation” for the Thursday night airstrike. The U.S. announced Friday it was sending more troops to the region as tensions soared in the wake of the targeted killing.

This marks a major escalation in the standoff between Washington and Iran, which has careened from one crisis to another since President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal and imposed crippling sanctions.

The United States said it was sending nearly 3,000 more Army troops to the Middle East and urged American citizens to leave Iraq “immediately" after the first airstrike. The State Department said the embassy in Baghdad, which was attacked by Iran-backed militiamen and their supporters earlier this week, is closed and all consular services have been suspended.

About 5,200 American troops are based in Iraq to train Iraqi forces and help in the fight against Islamic State group militants. Defense officials who made the announced about the new troops spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a decision not yet announced by the Pentagon. U.S. embassies also issued a security alert for Americans in Lebanon, Bahrain, Kuwait and Nigeria.