More than a dozen ballistic missiles hit the Ain Al-Asad and Irbil Iraqi air bases in western Iraq early Wednesday morning there, with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) taking responsibility for the attacks. The bases house U.S. troops.
No casualties have been reported.
Almost immediately after the attack, in a rare move, Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zariff cited international law to justify their strike. He then asked the US not to escalate the war in a tweet saying: “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.”
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
The attacks come less than a week after the United States killed IRCG Quds Force Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani at Baghdad Airport.
U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was handed a note inside a House Democratic Caucus meeting about the development, reported Politico. Iran is threatening more attacks against U.S. interests, reported CNN, citing Iranian TV.
Ahead of the attacks, the United States this week deployed an additional 3,500 troops to Iraq, Kuwait and other parts of the Middle East. There are currently between 60,000 and 70,000 U.S. troops in the region.
Additionally, the United States has deployed six B-52 bombers to a British base in the Indian Ocean called Diego Garcia, which is “within striking distance of the Persian Gulf but out of the range of Iranian missiles,” reported The Washington Examiner.
Additionally, “U.S. forces and air-defense missile batteries across the Middle East were placed on high alert overnight Monday to possibly shoot down Iranian drones as intelligence mounted about a threat of an imminent attack against U.S. targets,” reported CNN, citing two U.S. officials.
“Iran has been moving military equipment, including drones and ballistic missiles, over the last several days,” according to the outlet, citing U.S. intelligence.
“We are aware of the reports of attacks on U.S. facilities in Iraq,” said White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham in a statement. “The president has been briefed and is monitoring the situation closely and consulting with his national security team.”
In a statement, the Pentagon said:
At approximately 5:30 pm on January 7, Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles against U.S. military and coalition forces in Iraq. It is clear 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. We are working on initial battle damage assessments.
In recent days and in response to Iranian threats and actions, the Department of Defense has taken all appropriate measures to safeguard our personnel and partners. These bases have been on high alert due to indications that the Iranian regime planned to attack our forces and interests in the region.
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.
Breaking Israel News also contributed to this article