Iranian target US bases in Iraq in response to Soleimani killing

iran-attack-us-8jan2020-afp-editBAGHDAD (Iran): Several rockets have hit two airbases in Iraq that house US troops, days after Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei vowed “severe revenge” for the assassination of the country’s most senior general, Qassem Soleimani, by a US air strike in Baghdad last week.
Iran launched missiles at US-led forces in Iraq on Wednesday in retaliation for the U.S. drone strike on an Iranian commander whose killing last week stoked fears of a new Middle East war. Iranian state television said Iran had fired 15 missiles at U.S. targets in Iraq early on Wednesday.
Iran’s Fars news agency posted a video on Twitter late on Tuesday depicting what it said were Iranian missiles being fired at the Ain al-Assad military base in Iraq. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), whose Quds Force was led by Soleimani, claimed responsibility for the attack, saying that it was in response to the United States’ “criminal and terrorist operation”, referring to the assassination.trump_5_reuters (1)
The US Defence Department confirmed that the attacks were launched from Iran. It said that a base in Erbil was also hit.

“Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles against US military and coalition forces in Iraq,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement late on Tuesday. “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 Erbil.”
Hoffman said that the US military is still assessing damages. Both bases also host Iraqi forces. Iraq’s military said a total of 22 missiles had struck the two bases but there were no Iraqi casualties, the AFP news agency reported.
“Between 1.45am and 2.15am (2245 GMT and 2315 GMT) Iraq was hit by 22 missiles, 17 on the Ain al-Asad air base and … five on the city of Erbil,” the Iraqi military said. “There were no victims among the Iraqi forces,” it added, but did not mention whether or not there were casualties among foreign troops.
Britain on condemned the attacks and voiced concern over “reports of casualties” from the strikes, AFP reported. “We condemn this attack on Iraqi military bases hosting coalition – including British forces,” said Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.”We are concerned by reports of casualties and use of ballistic missiles.”
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump sent a cryptic message about his plans following the attack, promising to deliver a statement on Wednesday morning.”All is well! Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq,” he wrote on Twitter.

” So far, so good! We have the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world, by far! I will be making a statement tomorrow morning.”
Iranian officials said Tehran did not want a war and its strikes “concluded” its response to Friday’s killing of Qassem Soleimani, a powerful general whose burial in Iran after days of mourning was completed around the same time as Iran’s missile launches. Iranian state television showed mourners celebrating the attack.
One source said early indications were of no U.S. casualties, while other U.S. officials declined to comment.
Iranian state television said 80 “American terrorists” had been killed and U.S. helicopters and military equipment damaged. It did not provide evidence of how it obtained that information. Germany, Denmark and Norway said none of their troops in Iraq were killed or injured. Iraq also said there were no casualties in its forces.

Iran, which has long said U.S. forces should leave the Middle East, told Washington after the attacks to withdraw its troops to prevent more deaths and warned U.S. allies including Israel not to allow attacks from their territories.
Iranian television reported an official in Supreme Leader Ali Khameni’s office as saying the missile attacks were the “weakest” of several retaliation scenarios. It quoted another source saying Iran had lined up 100 other potential targets. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was due to speak later on Wednesday, state television reported.
Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said the bases targeted were al-Asad air base and another facility in Erbil, Iraq. “As we evaluate the situation and our response, we will take all necessary measures to protect and defend U.S. personnel, partners, and allies in the region,” Hoffman said.
Hours earlier on Tuesday, U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the United States should anticipate a response from Iran for the killing of Soleimani, commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force, a unit of the Revolutionary Guards. “I think we should expect that they will retaliate in some way, shape or form,” he told a briefing at the Pentagon.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said it would ban U.S. airlines from operating in the airspace over Iraq, Iran, the Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. Other airlines also issued warnings about flying over the region.
In an apparently unrelated incident, a Ukrainian airliner with more than 160 people on board crashed in Iran on Wednesday, killing all those on board, due to technical problems soon after taking off from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini airport.Democrats in the U.S. Congress and some of the party’s presidential contenders warned about the escalating conflict.
(With Agency Inputs ).


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