At least 80 US Soldiers have had been killed by Iranian missiles strikes that hit a US military base in Iraq, states the Iranian Media. The US says it is evaluating the damage caused by missile strikes.
“80 killed in Iran missile attacks on US bases in Iraq,” Press TV tweeted, in what US officials in Washington and Tehran said was the first act of the Islamic republic’s promised revenge for the assassination of revered military commander Qasem Soleimani.
The Pentagon said it was still “working on initial battle damage assessments” after “Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles against US military and coalition forces in Iraq.” “It is clear that these missiles were launched from Iran and targeted at least two Iraqi military bases hosting US military and coalition personnel” at Ain al-Asad and Arbil, the Pentagon said.
There were no immediate reports on casualties. The Pentagon said the facilities had been on “high alert” after days of steadily mounting tension and exchanges of threats of war.
Trump, who visited al-Asad with First Lady Melania Trump in December 2018, his first trip to US troops deployed in a war zone, said initial casualty assessments indicated “all is well.” He tweeted that “assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good!”
Iranian state television reported an attack on one base housing US personnel, saying it was in retaliation to the assassination of revered Iranian general – Qasem Soleimani.
The Iranian Revolutionary Guards announced that the Ain al-Asad base was hit with dozens of missiles, warning a US counter-attack would be met with an even “more crushing response” and threatening to strike Israel and America’s “allied governments.”
“We advise the American people to recall US troops (deployed in the) region in order to avoid further losses and not to allow the lives of its soldiers to be further threatened by the ever-growing hatred of the regime,” the IGRC said in a statement.
But Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif seemed to indicate that the missile strikes were over for now. “Iran took and concluded proportionate measures in self-defence” targeting a base from which a “cowardly armed attack against our citizens and senior officials” was launched, he said on Twitter.
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
Earlier, Trump warned that “if Iran does anything that they shouldn’t be doing, they’re going to be suffering the consequences and very strongly.” He called Soleimani — for years the mastermind of Iran’s regional network of official and covert military and anti-US alliances — “a monster.”
Trump, however, did walk back earlier threats to bomb Iranian cultural sites in the event of conflict — something that could be a war crime.
Political commentators on Iranian claims tweeted:
If Iran says that its missile strikes tonight have killed 80 Americans, and the US says that they killed no one, then let it all be with that and try to create an opening for some diplomacy. High time.
— Carl Bildt (@carlbildt) January 8, 2020
This could be a good time to de-escalate:
– For local consumption, Iran claims they killed 80 U.S. soldiers.
– U.S. says no American casualties.
Both sides "win" and save face. This can end right here. @akhbar
— Jenan Moussa (@jenanmoussa) January 8, 2020