Iran said Thursday that the missile strike on Iraqi military bases housing U.S. troops was not intended to killed Americans.
“We did not intend to kill,” said Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of the Revolutionary Guard’s Aerospace Force. “We intended to hit the enemy’s military machinery.”
The Iranian commander nevertheless claimed that “tens of people were killed or wounded,” conflicting the Trump administration’s statement that the missile strike caused no casualties.
Tehran on Tuesday launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles aimed at two Iraqi bases in Ain al-Asad and Irbil in Kurdistan. The act of aggression was a response to the assassination of top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, who was killed Friday in a U.S. airstrike in Baghdad.
The U.S. airstrike was launched in retaliation for the attacks by Iran-backed militiamen on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad last week, which Soleimani signed off on.
Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations Majid Takht Ravanchi echoed the Iranian commander’s insistence that Iran was “not looking after killing Americans within this operation” but added that he is “not a military man” and “cannot tell you exactly what was going on.”
“But what I can tell you is that the target was chosen in order to show that we are capable of hitting the target where the plan to kill Soleimani was organized,” the ambassador said. “As I said, we are not interested in — we are not looking after killing Americans within this operation.”
Vice President Mike Pence contradicted the Iranian ambassador on Thursday, saying the missiles “were intended to kill Americans” and that the U.S. had intelligence “to support that that was the intention of the Iranians.”
Iran’s supreme leader warned Wednesday that the missile attack was “not enough” retaliation against America.
“They were slapped last night, but such military actions are not enough,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said.