Missiles fired at 2 Iraqi bases housing US troops, US defense officials confirm
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Tehran launched “more than a dozen" ballistic missiles at two military bases in Iraq that house U.S. troops over America’s killing of a top Iranian general, U.S. Department of Defense officials confirmed.
Iran State TV described the attacks, which happened in the evening hours Wednesday, as Tehran’s revenge operation over the killing of Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
President Donald Trump responded later on Tuesday evening, tweeting, "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."
Ten missiles hit Al-Assad Air Base, one missile hit a military base in Erbil and four missiles failed, according to a U.S. military spokesman for Central Command, responsible for American forces in the Middle East. The attacks unfolded in two waves, each about an hour apart.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard warned the U.S. and its regional allies against retaliating over the missile attack in Iraq. The Guard issued the warning via a statement carried by Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency.
“We are warning all American allies, who gave their bases to its terrorist army, that any territory that is the starting point of aggressive acts against Iran will be targeted,” the Guard said. It also threatened Israel.
Tehran launched “more than a dozen" ballistic missiles at two military bases in Iraq that house U.S. troops over America’s killing of a top Iranian general, U.S. Department of Defense officials confirmed. (Photo: FOX News)
In a statement from the assistant to the U.S. secretary of defense for public affairs, it said the agency will "evaluate the situation" and its response.
"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-Assad and Irbil," the statement said.
The statement further said that "all necessary measures" would be taken to "protect and defend U.S. personnel, partners and allies in the region."
Damages or any injuries were unclear, but agency officials said they were working on "initial battle damage assessments."
U.S. officials confirmed both strikes, though Iran only initially acknowledged targeting one base.
Earlier, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said the White House was aware of the reports.
"The President has been briefed and is monitoring the situation closely and consulting with his national security team," she said.
The Pentagon added: “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.”
The latest U.S. intelligence assessment showed Iran had more than 2,000 ballistic missiles, Pentagon officials told Fox News.
The USS Harry Truman aircraft carrier strike group has been in the Gulf of Oman along with guided-missile destroyers, a guided-missile cruiser and at least one submarine. The Navy warships and submarine together had hundreds of Tomahawk cruise missiles with pre-planned targets locked into the missiles.
The ships would be ready to fire if given the order, two senior Pentagon officials told Fox News.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tweeted the situation is being closely monitored.
"We must ensure the safety of our servicemembers, including ending needless provocations from the Administration and demanding that Iran cease its violence. America & world cannot afford war," she said.
Meanwhile, the FAA issued emergency restrictions for the Persian Gulf airspace, citing "potential for miscalculation or mis-identification."
Ain Al-Asad Air Base is located in Iraq’s western Anbar province. It was first used by American forces after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein. It later saw American troops stationed there amid the fight against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.
FILE: A pilot sits in a US F16 jet fighter at the al-Asad Air Base, west the capital Baghdad, as soldiers begin to begin their journey home out of Iraq, on November 1, 2011. (Photo credit should read ALI AL-SAADI/AFP via Getty Images)
It houses about 1,500 U.S. and coalition forces. President Donald Trump visited the base unannounced in 2018 after Christmas.
The U.S. also mentioned a base in Irbil in Iraq's semiautonomous Kurdish region.
State TV said the operation’s name was “Martyr Soleimani.” It said the Guard’s aerospace division, which controls Iran’s missile program, launched the attack.
Earlier, a senior U.S. military source also told FOX News, “Under missile attack from Iran. These are either cruise missiles or short-range ballistic missiles. All over the country.”
The Washington Post’s Beirut bureau chief tweeted, “The US military confirms an ongoing rocket attack on Al-Asad airbase where US troops are based. It’s the one Trump said Iraq would have to pay for if the US leaves.”
“At least six rockets so far tonight on Al-Asad airbase which hosts US troops in Iraq. Reports of an earlier attack on Taji were false - US military official,” the Post's bureau chief tweeted.
“3. No confirmation that of the much higher figure of 30 rockets fired,” the bureau chief continued in a third tweet.
There are images and videos circulating online of the attack, but defense and White House officials have not confirmed those images are legitimate.
Soleimani's killing and Iran's missile strikes also marked the first time in recent years that Washington and Tehran have attacked each other directly rather than through proxies in the region. It raised the chances of open conflict erupting between the two nations, which have been foes since the days immediately following Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution.
RELATED: Coup, revolution and war: Events that propped up Soleimani reveal why Iran is split on his death
After the strikes, a former Iranian nuclear negotiator posted a picture of the Islamic Republic's flag on Twitter, appearing to mimic Trump who posted an American flag following the killing of Soleimani and others Friday in a drone strike in Baghdad.
About 70 Norwegian troops also were on the air base but no injuries were reported, Brynjar Stordal, a spokesperson for the Norwegian Armed Forces told The Associated Press.
Wednesday's revenge attack came a mere few hours after crowds in Iran mourned Soleimani and as the U.S. continued to reinforce its own positions in the region and warned of an unspecified threat to shipping from Iran in the region's waterways, crucial routes for global energy supplies. U.S. embassies and consulates from Asia to Africa and Europe issued security alerts for Americans. The U.S. Air Force launched a drill with 52 fighter jets in Utah, just days after Trump threatened to hit 52 sites in Iran.
The U.S. also acknowledged another missile attack on a base in Irbil in Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.