Iran launched over a dozen ballistic missiles on Tuesday in an attack on two separate United States military bases in Iraq. According to The New York Times, Iranian news is saying that the strikes are the beginning of retaliation for the killing of military leader Qassem Soleimani.
According to Iranian news media, over 30 ballistic missiles were fired at the U.S. base in Asad in western Iraq, while additional rockets were fired at a base in Erbil in the northern part of the country.
“The fierce revenge by the Revolutionary Guards has begun,” Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said of the attacks.
American military sources claim that Iran launched over a dozen missiles at the two bases, but didn’t specify what damage or casualties took place as a result of the attacks. Iraq’s military reported that seven rockets had hit one of the bases.
“We are working on initial battle damage assessments,” a Pentagon reported.
Iranian officials stated that the attack began at 1:20 a.m. on Tuesday, which is the time of day that Soleimani was killed on Friday in a drone airstrike near the Baghdad airport. The Iranian general was killed after Donald Trump ordered the strike on a convoy carrying Soleimani and other prominent military leaders.
After Soleimani’s death, Iran vowed to retaliate against the United States, and the missile attack appears to be the beginning of that promise.
The White House said that the president is being kept appraised of the ongoing situation.
“The president has been briefed and is monitoring the situation closely and consulting with his national security team,” it said.
Iran has launched 'tens' of missiles at the al-Asad airbase in Iraq, where U.S. forces are housed, according to Iran's state TV pic.twitter.com/KLikqK2fsw— NowThis (@nowthisnews) January 8, 2020
U.S. officials say that they were forced to kill Soleimani after it came to light that he was planning an imminent attack on Americans in the region. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said that the attack was scheduled to begin within days and that the Iranian general was in Iraq to coordinate the offensive.
“He’s been conducting terrorist activities against us and our coalition partners for over 20 years,” Esper said. “He has the blood of hundreds of Americans, soldiers, on his hands and wounded thousands more. And then we could talk about all of the mayhem he’s caused against the Syrian people, the people of Lebanon. Even his own people in Iran.”
While Trump has said that America would strike at Iran’s cultural sites if the country retaliated against the U.S., he walked back those comments, saying that he would obey the law when it comes to launching any potential attacks.