Iran launches missiles into US air bases in Iraq: US official
Iran fired multiple missiles into Iraq on Tuesday evening, targeting U.S. military sites in what appeared to be retaliation for the recent American drone strike that killed one of its top generals.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps swiftly took credit, and one Iranian politician tweeted his nation’s flag — an apparent swipe at President Donald Trump who tweeted the American flag after the U.S. killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
“We warn the Great Satan, the arrogant American regime that any new invasions and aggression will result in more painful and pounding responses,” the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps stated.
The recent developments were expected to spark global fear of a U.S. war in the Middle East. Iranian leaders had vowed revenge for the death of Soleimani, who the U.S. has blamed for the recent death of an American military contractor as well as being behind hundreds of roadside bombs.
A Pentagon spokesman estimated that there were more than a dozen missiles launched from Iran beginning at about 5:30 p.m. EST.
“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,” wrote Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman.
“We are working on initial battle damage assessments,” Hoffman added.
A senior administration official told ABC News, “We are not seeing any American casualties at this moment.”
However, the situation is still fluid and assessments are ongoing, two U.S. officials said. About a quarter of the Iranian ballistic missiles that were fired “failed” — implying that they were either intercepted by air defenses or missed their targets, the senior administration official said. The U.S. official said there is no activity from Iran at the moment.
The president and congressional leadership were briefed immediately after the strikes. White House officials told reporters that the president did not plan to address the nation Tuesday night.
“We are aware of the reports of attacks on US facilities in Iraq,” according to a statement from White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham. “The President has been briefed and is monitoring the situation closely and consulting with his national security team.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi being handed a note in the middle of a leadership meeting. Rep. Debbie Dingell, who was present during the meeting, said Pelosi asked the other lawmakers to pray.
Pelosi then spoke with Vice President Mike Pence by phone, according to the two offices.
“We must ensure the safety of our service members, including ending needless provocations from the Administration and demanding that Iran cease its violence. America & world cannot afford war,” Pelosi tweeted.
An Iranian news outlet, ISNA, dubbed the attack “Operation Martyr Soleimani” and said the ground-to-ground missiles were aimed at “terrorist and invasive U.S. forces.”
“The body of General Soleimani is being buried now. After taking revenge of his blood, now his body is being buried,” according to a statement from Iran to members of the foreign press.
U.S. government officials have said that Soleimani has long been regarded as an enemy of American security interests, but that past administrations calculated that killing him was not worth the risk, including launching a potential war with Iran.
When asked why his calculation was different, resulting in a U.S. drone strike targeting Soleimani as he traveled inside Iraq, Trump and his top aides insisted that he was planning an attack on U.S. service members and diplomats. A small group of senior lawmakers, including Pelosi, were briefed on that intelligence on Tuesday.
“He was planning a very big attack and a very bad attack, for us, and for other people,” Trump told reporters on Tuesday afternoon prior to the missile attack on U.S. sites in Iraq.
In a Pentagon briefing Tuesday afternoon, also before the Iranian strikes were launched, Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters that the U.S. was ready to defend itself.
“I would like to say we are not looking to start a war with Iran. But we are prepared to finish one,” Esper said.
He said the U.S. wants Iran to “sit down with us to begin a discussion about a better way ahead.”
Trump visited al-Asad Airbase in December 2018, his first visit to U.S. troops in a combat zone since becoming president.
“We’re no longer the suckers, folks,” Trump told the service members during the visit, according to the Associated Press. “We’re respected again as a nation.”
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
Multiple missiles have been launched into Iraq from Iran targeting American bases.
“This morning, courageous fighters of the IRGC’s Air Force launched a successful operation called Operation Martyr Soleimani, with the code ‘Oh Zahra’ by firing tens of ground-to-ground missiles at the base of the terrorist and invasive US forces,” the country’s state-run news outlet ISNA reported.
The attack comes days after the U.S. killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani in a drone attack in Iraq.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper in a briefing at the Pentagon Tuesday said the U.S. was ready to retaliate for any attack launched by Iran.
“Thirdly, to our partners and allies and to the Iran regime, I would like to say we are not looking to start a war with Iran. But we are prepared finish one,” Esper said. “As I’ve told my many colleagues, as I spoke to them over the last few days, what we like to see is the situation be escalated and for Iran to sit down with us to begin a discussion about a better way ahead.”
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.