The Iranian government claimed responsibility Tuesday evening for rocket attacks on Iraq’s Al-Asad air base, which houses U.S. troops.
“The brave soldiers of IRGC’s aerospace unit have launched a successful attack with tens of ballistic missiles on Al-Asad military base in the name of martyr Gen. Qasem Soleimani,” Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said in a statement. “We warn all allied countries of the U.S. that if attacks are launched from bases in their countries on Iran, they will be a target of military retaliation.”
The Pentagon confirmed the attack, and a Pentagon official told ABC News that 15 ballistic missiles had been launched. Ten of those hit a base in western Iraq, one hit a base in Irbil in northern Iraqi Kurdistan, and four failed mid-flight.
“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-Asad and Irbil,” a Pentagon statement read.
We are working on initial battle damage assessments. In recent days and in response to Iranian threats and actions, the @DeptofDefense has taken all appropriate measures to safeguard our personnel and partners.
— Alyssa Farah (@PentagonPresSec) January 8, 2020
There were initial reports of multiple Iraqi casualties, but no reports of Americans being harmed. Iraqi officials later told CNN that there were no Iraqi casualties.
Iraqi security officials are now telling CNN there are no casualties among Iraqi security forces following the attacks on the al-Asad airbase in Anbar province and the attacks in Erbil.
— Shimon Prokupecz (@ShimonPro) January 8, 2020
After being briefed and meeting with members of his cabinet, President Trump tweeted “All is well!” and said he would brief the nation Wednesday morning.
All is well! Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq. Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good! We have the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world, by far! I will be making a statement tomorrow morning.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 8, 2020
Following news of the attack, Iran’s top nuclear negotiator and Representative of the Supreme Leader, Saeed Jalili, mirrored President Trump’s response to the U.S. airstrike that killed top military leader Qasem Soleimani last week.
— Saeed Jalili (@DrSaeedJalili) January 7, 2020
But Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif took a more nuanced approach, saying Tuesday night that “We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression.”
Iran 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.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) January 8, 2020
Zarif’s comments mirrored Trump’s from a press conference last Friday, in which the president had said that Soleimani’s killing was meant “to stop a war.”
“We did not take action to start a war,” Trump said. “We do not seek regime change. However, the Iranian regime’s aggression in the region … must end, and it must end now.”
U.S. officials had claimed in the aftermath of the U.S. attack that, based on “solid intelligence,” Soleimani was planning “imminent attacks” on U.S. facilities in the surrounding region that could have killed hundreds of Americans, but did not release the said intelligence.
The New York Times reported Tuesday that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told the Iranian National Security Council that a direct response was necessary following Soleimani’s death.