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Iran fired some 22 ballistic missiles at two U.S. bases in neighboring Iraq on January 7 in retaliation for the killing of its top Gen Qassem Soleimani. The latest developments have again put the two arch enemies on a collision course that threatens to undermine the already shaken stability in the region.
The Pentagon confirmed that at least one salvo of more than a dozen missiles was fired from inside Iran at the Ain Assad air base in Iraq’s western Anbar province and a second base housing U.S. and allied forces in the Iraqi Kurdish city of Erbil.
Although there was no official report on casualties, the AP, citing a U.S. official, said there were very few if any casualties. In a Tuesday evening tweet, in which Trump noted that casualty and damage assessments were being conducted, he said, “All is well!” and “So far, so good!”
“At approximately 0530 p.m. on January 7, Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles against U.S. military and coalition forces in Iraq,” the Pentagon said. “It is clear that these missiles were launched from Iran and targeted at least two Iraqi military bases hosting U.S. military and coalition personnel at Al-Assad and Irbil.”
Approximately 5,200 U.S. troops are stationed in Iraq, but it was not immediately known how many were serving at the two targeted bases.
“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,” said Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman, noting that U.S. commanders already had moved to protect troops and assets in light of the events of recent days.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the command once headed by Gen. Qassem Soleimani, said in a statement that “the brave soldiers of IRGC’s aerospace unit have launched a successful attack with tens of ballistic missiles on Al Assad military base in the name of their slain leader.
For its part, the IRGC said no missiles intercepted in attack on US bases during Wednesday’s heavy strike that targeted two US bases inside Iraq to avenge the United States’ assassination of its senior commander, Lt-Gen Qassem Soleimani.
Shortly after the strikes, Iranian officials advised US commanders against embarking on any new military action, warning that a more crushing will be awaiting them. They have been urging US forces to swiftly leave the region.
In a live televised speech on January 8, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei highlighted the need for the US military presence – the source of all corruption in the region – to come to an end.
“A slap was delivered last night, but what is important is that the seditious presence of America in the region should be ended,” the Supreme Leader said.
Also speaking in the same tone, Armed Forces Chief of Staff Maj-Gen Mohammad Baqeri called for the US armed forces to withdraw from the region immediately.
“The time has come for the evil rulers of the United States to withdraw their terrorist army forces as quickly as possible from the region,” said.
The attacks were launched at 0120 a.m. local time, the exact moment the U.S. military launched drone strikes on Friday that led to the killing of Gen Soleimani, the commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC)’s Quds Force, and the second-in-command of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) anti-terror group, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, among others, in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.
Iran’s Lt-Gen Qassem Soleimani has been laid to rest in his hometown, Kerman, after the Armed Forces launched retaliatory missile raids on US bases in Iraq. Gen Soleimani was cooperating with the PMU and the Iraqi government against the most deadly terrorist outfits to ever afflict the region, including the Daesh Takfiri group. Iran has denounced the assassinations as “an act of state terrorism”, Press TV said.
Tehran had vowed vengeance for the blood of its commander, with Ayatollah Khamenei warning of a “harsh revenge” in a speech that followed the assassinations. Trump tweets ‘all is well’ as casualties are assessed after Iran fires 22 ballistic missiles in operation ‘Martyr Soleimani’ at two US bases in Iraq – and Tehran says ‘proportionate’ revenge strike is ‘concluded’.