Iran Launches Missile Strikes Against U.S. in Iraq
Iran fired ballistic missiles at U.S. military targets in Iraq early Wednesday morning, following through on its vow to retaliate against the U.S. after President Trump ordered the assassination of top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad last week.
The Pentagon confirmed that Iran launched “more than a dozen ballistic missiles against U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq,” targeting both Al Asad Air Base about 100 miles west of Baghdad, as well as a U.S. base in Erbil, in the the Kurdish-controlled region of Northern Iraq. Both facilities house both U.S. and Iraqi forces. The Pentagon did not announce updates on the strikes’ level of damage or whether there were any casualties but stressed that “the Department of Defense has taken all appropriate measures to safeguard our personnel and partners” following Iran’s threats.
It’s not yet clear how the U.S. will respond, but the White House has announced that it is “aware of the reports of attacks on U.S. facilities in Iraq” and that President Trump “has been briefed and is monitoring the situation closely and consulting with his national-security team.” On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the U.S. was ready to retaliate against any attack, explaining that the U.S was “not looking to start a war with Iran, but we are prepared to finish one.” That followed President Trump’s repeated threats to strike back at Iran over the past several days.
Informed speculation on the strike quickly emerged, as journalists and experts on the region weighed in on the significance of the strike and how it might escalate tensions between the U.S. and Iran:
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps officially announced the strikes and called for the U.S. to withdraw “all their soldiers back home to prevent more damage,” while the Iranian government reportedly warned Gulf countries that U.S. bases on their territory are targets for further strikes.
The missile attack is reportedly the first time Iran has targeted and attacked U.S. forces — at a base where Trump appeared in December 2018 in his first visit to troops stationed in a combat zone.
This is a developing news story, and this post will be continuously updated.