A double attack with ballistic missiles against US military bases in Iraq was launched by Revolutionary Guards, a select corps of the Iranian armed forces.
The two attacks, carried out overnight, were in retaliation for the killing of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani by the United States on Friday, the Iranian news agency Tasnim reports.
The Revolutionary Guards Corps launched ground-to-ground ballistic missile attacks on two US bases in Iraqi territory: one is in Arbil (Iraqi Kurdistan, north) and the other in Anbar province, and is based in al-Aashan. According to Tasnim, at least 35 rockets were fired, but newer reports indicate that the rockets were 15.
Today’s missile attacks are just “the first step”
Revolutionary Guards argued that the Ain al-Assad base was “completely destroyed”. The attack on the base, where US forces are stationed in Iraq, was “absolutely successful”, according to the Iranian armed forces. Revolutionary Guards demanded that the US “withdraw its forces” from Iraq to avoid further casualties and also threatened to strike “Israel and other US allies” in the region if they allowed their territories to be used by the Americans for the military action against the Islamic Republic, Iranian state television broadcast. A senior Revolutionary Guards official said today’s missile attacks are simply “the first step”.
The attack came about 24 hours after the US armed forces sowed complete confusion, with their administration in Iraq sending a letter assuring them that their officers would be withdrawn from Iraqi territory as required by parliament but the Pentagon .
Many member states of the international anti-jihadist coalition under Washington have already announced that they are withdrawing their forces in whole or in part for fear that there will be new attacks, since about 15 such have taken place since the end of October, against bases on which foreign troops are deployed.
Pentagon: We will take all measures to protect our personnel
The US Pentagon has announced that the US Armed Forces “will take all necessary measures to protect and defend US personnel, partners and allies in the region.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was informed of the attacks by US Vice President Mike Pence, she announced via Twitter.
Tehran does not want war, but will overwhelmingly retaliate to any attack
Government spokesman Ali Rabi’i via Twitter, hours after the ballistic missile strikes against US military bases in Iraq unleashed by Revolutionary Guards, said Iran was not seeking war, but will react to any attack.
He also expressed the Iranian government’s “gratitude” to the Revolutionary Guards for the “successful” operation.
On his part, the adviser to the Iranian president warned that if the US military retaliates by bombing targets in Iranian territory, it would trigger a war.
“Any (…) US military action will be confronted with outright war in the region,” an adviser to Hassan Rouhani, said via Twitter, adding, “But the Saudis can take a different path, to have complete peace.” He did not make clear what he meant by his comment on the Sunni kingdom, a major opponent of the Shiite Islamic Republic in the region.
Tehran and Riyadh have been involved in wars through intermediaries in the region for decades, from Iraq and Syria to Yemen. Tehran has repeatedly urged Riyadh to pursue efforts to improve bilateral relations.
80 Americans dead, Iranian television says – No dead, US says
At the same time, conflicting information on casualties from rocket attacks is transmitted by Iran and the US.
Iranian state television reports that 80 “American terrorists” were killed in ballistic missile strikes by Revolutionary Guards, citing officers of that select body of Iranian armed forces. He spoke of some 200 others injured.
Earlier, sources close to the US government said there was no information on casualties in the Iranian missile strikes, but said they were still assessing the situation.
US television channel CNN reported that Iranian rockets caused casualties among Iraqis. It did not give a number, nor did itd specify whether they were dead or injured.
Iranian state television said that 15 ballistic missiles were fired at US installations and aircraft and helicopters “suffered great damage”.
He also noted, citing a government source, that Iran is targeting another 100 US facilities that it intends to hit if the US retaliates.
Today address by Trump, meetings with Pompeo
US President Donald Trump is expected to deliver a speech to the American people today, he said via Twitter. He added that the US Armed Forces are still in the process of assessing the situation following the missiles fired by Revolutionary Guards against at least two US bases in Iraq, in retaliation for the killing of Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani in Iraq.
However, as the US President assured, “so far, everything is going well!”.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Minister Mark Esper left the White House earlier, where they had rushed to when the Iranian missile strikes began.