Iranian state TV says Tehran launched “tens” of surface-to-surface missiles at Iraq’s Ain Assad and Irbil air bases housing US troops at 1.30am local time (8.30am AEST).
Iranian officials said the attacks marked the beginning of a promised retaliation against the US for the killing of top Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani.
“The fierce revenge by the Revolutionary Guards has begun,” Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said in a statement on a Telegram channel.
It warned the US and its regional allies against retaliating over the missile attack: “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.”
RELATED: Stampede at Soleimani’s funeral
The attacks are significant as they mark the first direct retaliation against the US for Soleimani’s death, following three days of mourning.
The direct attacks on US troops add to growing fears of a war between the US and Iran.
State TV said the operation’s name was “Marytr Soleimani”, and that the Revolutionary Guard’s aerospace division, which controls Iran’s missile program, launched the attacks.
It was not immediately clear whether the purported missile strikes struck the base or whether any damage had been caused, but there are reports of casualties among the Iraqis at the Ain Assad air base.
— Press TV (@PressTV) January 7, 2020
Ain Assad air base is located in Iraq’s western Anbar province. American forces have been stationed there since the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
It later saw American troops stationed there amid the fight against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.
Shortly after the attack, Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili tweeted a lone image of the Iranian flag:
It appears to be in response to a similar tweet by President Donald Trump, who posted a photo of the American flag following Soleimani’s assassination:
US DEFENCE OFFICIALS CONFIRM ATTACK
The Pentagon has confirmed that Iran launched missiles towards “at least two Iraqi military bases” in Iraq.
“It is clear that these missiles were launched from Iran and targeted at least two Iraqi military bases hosting US military and coalition personnel at Al-Assad and Irbil,” Jonathan Hoffman, assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, said in a statement. “We are working on initial battle damage assessments.”
He noted the bases have been on high alert “due to indications that the Iranian regime planned to attack our forces and interests in the region.”
“As we evaluate the situation and our response, we will take all necessary measures to protect and defend US personnel, partners, and allies in the region.”
A senior US military source told Fox News reporter Jennifer Griffin: “Under missile attack from Iran. These are either cruise missiles or short range ballistic missiles. All over the country.”
“I’m talking to a well placed source in the US military, on the ground in Iraq, and that source tells me that these are multiple tactical ballistic, or cruise missiles that are being fired from Iran at multiple US bases and US targets inside Iraq,” Griffin said on the show. “They are under fire right now. I asked if they had any plans to evacuate, remember there are 5000 American troops in Iraq and I was told ‘no, we are defending.’ So, expect an American response.”
“This is something we have been expecting all afternoon, there were situation room meetings as well meetings with top officials here at the Penatgon,” she continued. “There was a lot of chatter, we were told intelligence suggesting that the Iranians would strike at US bases in Iraq after the that mourning for Qassem Soleimani ended earlier today.
“But right now, in real time, we can confirm that multiple sites, including Ain Assad Air Base in Western Iraq, where most of the US troops are based.”
— Farnaz Fassihi (@farnazfassihi) January 7, 2020
Mr Trump has been briefed on the attack, with White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham saying he was aware of the reports.
“The President has been briefed and is monitoring the situation closely and consulting with his national security team,” she said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tweeted about the incident, saying “America and the world cannot afford war”.
Closely monitoring the situation following bombings targeting U.S. troops in Iraq. We must ensure the safety of our servicemembers, including ending needless provocations from the Administration and demanding that Iran cease its violence. America & world cannot afford war.
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) January 8, 2020
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been in contact with the chiefs of the Defence force and the Ministers for Defence and Foreign Affairs regarding the incident.
The missile launches come two days after rockets were fired near the US Embassy in Baghdad in the wake of the assassination of Soleimani.
Two rockets hit near the US embassy in Baghdad on Sunday, marking the second night in a row that the Green Zone was hit and the 14th time over the past two months that US installations have been targeted.
A third rocket simultaneously hit a family home outside the Green Zone, wounding four.
Ties between Iraq and the US have deteriorated following Soleimani’s death.
Some 5,200 US soldiers are stationed across Iraqi bases to support local troops preventing a resurgence of the Islamic State jihadist group.
They are deployed as part of the broader international coalition, invited by the Iraqi government in 2014 to help fight IS.
— with wires
- Supporters of Iran-backed Iraqi group protest US sanctions
- US warnings over spate of Iranian-backed rocket attacks on its bases in Iraq
- Pentagon says Iran's missiles unrivaled in Middle East
- Supersonic BrahMos missile successfully test-fired from Odisha's Chandipur
- The smoking gun? US military releases footage they claim shows Iranian forces removing an unexploded mine from a stricken oil tanker after Tehran denies 'baseless' Pompeo claims it was behind the attack
- US drone: Trump says Iran made a 'very bad mistake'
- Pakistan Continues Missile Tests
- Real Soldiers Love Their Robot Brethren
- China's troops wait to crush Hong Kong protests: Military convoy is spotted hidden at sports stadium near border in ominous sign Beijing is preparing tougher crackdown
- ‘Countdown Started': US Naval Base Terrorist Suspect Issued Warning Months Before Attack – Report
Iran fires multiple surface-to-surface missiles at Iraqi military bases hosting US soldiers have 1103 words, post on www.news.com.au at January 8, 2020. This is cached page on Europe Breaking News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.