IRAN targeted US bases in Iraq with at least 15 missiles in a violent revenge assault – but calm Donald Trump has insisted “All is well!”
The series of attacks were aimed at Al Asad and Erbil air bases in retaliation for the US killing of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, according to a report Wednesday from a Tehran-based news agency.
Iranian state television has claimed at 80 “American terrorists” were killed in the attacks, but statements from the US government and Iraqi military suggest there were no casualties.
It also said Iran had identified 100 targets in the region that would be targeted were the US to retaliate to last night’s attack.
Following the attack, a Ukrainian International Airlines Boeing 737 crashed just a few miles from Tehran’s main airport, killing all 176 people on board and sparking fears it had been shot down.
President Trump took to Twitter Tuesday night to respond to the Iranian missile attack.
He wrote: “All is well! Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq. Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now.
“So far, so good! We have the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world, by far!”
Trump announced he will be making a statement on the issue Wednesday morning.
Iran’s state TV boasted the operation was named Martyr Soleimani and was carried out in memory of General Qasem Soleimani, the Revolutionary Guard leader killed last week in a US drone strike.
In a public address, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei described the attack as a “slap in the face” for the US.
He added that it was “not close to the significance of the brutal crime you have committed” by killing Soleimani, and that “real revenge will be to remove you from the region”.
TEN MISSILES HIT TARGET
Ten of the ballistic missiles struck the Al Asad Airbase in Iraq, one hit the town of Erbil, and four others were unsuccessful in hitting their targets, according to a US official.
The official, who wished to remain anonymous, said there were no immediate reports of American casualties, but building searches are being conducted.
Soon after the missiles were launched, Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif called the attack a proportionate measure in self-defense and said he doesn’t want the situation to escalate.
Zarif tweeted: “We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression.”
Footage of the missile strikes appeared to have showed fiery explosions.
Top Democrats in Congress were briefed by Vice President Mike Pence Tuesday on the Iranian strikes on installations in Iraq holding US forces.
VP Pence’s spokeswoman Katie Waldman confirmed the vice president has had constant communication with national security officials.
Surface-to-surface missiles – said to have been fired from inside Iran – were aimed at the Al-Asad air base that houses American troops.
Another facility in Erbil, in the Kurdish region of Iraq, was also targeted.
Video shows several rockets glowing in the night sky. They are believed to be defensive rockets set up to intercept the missiles.
The Revolutionary Guard then warned the US and its regional allies against retaliating.
An hour after the attack began a second round of rockets was launched, Iranian media said.
It came after huge crowds took to the streets of Iran to mourn Soleimani.
The Iranian Fars news agency tweeted a picture of a missile being fired with the words: “Hard Revenge.”
State TV also described the attack, which took place early on Wednesday morning local time, as Tehran’s revenge operation for Soleimani’s death.
“We are warning all American allies, who gave their bases to its terrorist army, that any territory that is the starting point of aggressive acts against Iran will be targeted,” the Guard said in a statement, that also threatened Israel.
A US military source in Iraq told Fox News: “Under missile attack from Iran. These are either cruise missiles or short range ballistic missiles. All over the country.”
Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said: “We are working on initial battle damage assessments.”
Al-Asad air base was first used by American forces after the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein.
It later saw American troops stationed there amid the fight against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria and was visited by Donald Trump in 2018.
Soleimani, 62, spearheaded Iran‘s military operations in the Middle East as head of the country’s elite Quds Force, considered to be a terrorist organisation by the US.
Trump claimed he ordered the strike because Soleimani was plotting further attacks and the killing sparked a tense wait for Iran’s response amid fears of a devastating war.
Thousands of Iranians flooded the streets of Tehran for his funeral on Monday.
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei wept over the general’s casket during his prayers as mourners waved flags and demanded revenge.
And thousands more turned out in his home town of Kerman today, sparking a stampede which left 40 dead and 213 injured.
A procession in Tehran on Monday drew over a million people in the Iranian capital, crowding both main avenues and side streets.
The Federal Aviation Administration has prohibited US pilots and carriers from flying over Iranian airspace following the missile strikes.
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A warning of “the potential for miscalculation or mis-identification” for civilian aircraft was issued.
US pilots and carriers are banned from flying in areas of Iraqi, Iranian and some Persian Gulf airspace.
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