Iran has fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two military bases in Iraq that house US troops, in retaliation for the airstrike that killed a top Iranian general days earlier.
Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the strikes were a “slap in the face” to the US. The attack came after the remains of Gen. Qassem Soleimani were returned to his hometown for burial.
The Pentagon confirmed the attack, saying missiles were aimed at US and coalition forces at two military bases in the region: Al Asad west of Baghdad and Erbil in northern Iraq.
There were no immediate confirmed reports of injuries or deaths as officials continued to assess the damage, but President Donald Trump tweeted, “All is well!”
Trump said he would make a statement Wednesday morning. Trump and the first lady visited the Al Asad base in an unannounced visit in 2018.
Iranian state media, carrying a statement by the country’s Revolutionary Guard, said dozens of US soldiers had died in the missile attacks, while Iraq’s security communications office said no Iraqis had been killed.
The office of Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi said Iraq was informed by Iran that it would strike US military targets in Iraq, without specifying where. At the same time, the US contacted Iraq to say it was being hit at the two bases. In a series of tweets, the Prime Minister’s office called on both sides to de-escalate tensions, and respect Iraq’s sovereignty.
Iran said the missile strikes were in retaliation for the drone strike ordered by Trump that killed Soleimani, the head of the elite Quds Force and who oversaw Iran’s Middle East military operations, in Baghdad last week.
In a televised address, Khamenei warned of further action if the US retaliated.
“What matters is that the presence of America, that is a source of corruption in this region, that should come to an end,” he said.
Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif had earlier tweeted that his country “took & concluded proportionate measures in self-defense under Article 51 of UN Charter targeting base from which cowardly armed attack against our citizens & senior officials were launched.”
“We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression,” Zarif said.
Meanwhile a representative of Khamenei tweeted a picture of the Iranian flag, appearing to mirror a tweet sent by Trump after Soleimani was killed.
Iranian officials said the missile launches began at 1:20 a.m., around the same time Soleimani was killed near the airport in Baghdad.
The Associated Press reported the operation was named “Martyr Soleimani” by Iran’s government.
The White House said President Trump was monitoring the situation.
“We are aware of the reports of attacks on US facilities in Iraq,” White House spokesperson Stephanie Grisham said in a statement. “The President has been briefed and is monitoring the situation closely and consulting with his national security team.”
The attack is the latest escalation of aggressive acts between the two countries and came just hours after Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said the US was “not seeking a war with Iran.”
“But we are prepared to finish one,” Esper said during a news conference Tuesday. “We are seeking a diplomatic solution. But first this will require Iran to de-escalate. It will require the regime to come to the table with the goal of preventing further bloodshed.”
After the attack on the airbase, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard warned the US and regional allies not to retaliate, the AP reported.
“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.
Esper said commanders on the ground had been told to “prepare for any contingencies,” and that the military had “increased our force protection postures across the region.”
Pentagon officials said personnel had already been on high alert due to increased tensions in the region and Iran’s warning of retaliation.
“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.
UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab condemned the Iranian attack, saying, “We urge Iran not to repeat these reckless and dangerous attacks, and instead to pursue urgent de-escalation.”
On Sunday, the US-led coalition fighting ISIS announced it had put its fight against the terror group on hold as tensions mounted and the possibility of an attack from Iran increased.
The killing of Soleimani on Iraqi soil also prompted the Iraqi parliament to approve a resolution to remove the presence of US troops in Iraq.
US officials downplayed the outrage from Iraqi officials, where thousands of US troops remain, and claimed the US continued to have support from allies and partners in the region.
Shortly after the attack, Esper, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Miller were reportedly seen arriving at the White House.
Vice President Mike Pence, at Trump’s direction, had also been calling congressional leaders about the attack.
Hours after Iran launched missiles into Iraq, a Ukrainian Boeing 737 crashed after takeoff in Tehran, killing all 176 people on board, but there is currently no suggestion the incidents are in any way linked.