Iran fired as many as 15 ballistic missiles into Iraq, targeting U.S. military and coalition forces early Wednesday, officials said, in a major retaliation by the rogue regime to the U.S. airstrike that killed Iranian terrorist Qassem Soleimani last week.
Ten missiles hit Al-Assad Air Base, one missile hit a military base in Erbil and four missiles failed to hit their targets, 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. Initial assessments showed “no U.S. casualties,” a U.S. military official in Baghdad said.
President Trump issued a reassuring tweet late Tuesday evening: “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.”
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said right after the attack: “We are aware of the reports of attacks on U.S. facilities in Iraq. The president has been briefed and is monitoring the situation closely and consulting with his national security team.”
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.”
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 in the warning also threatened Israel.
The latest U.S. intelligence assessment showed Iran had more than 2,000 ballistic missiles, Pentagon officials said.
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 said.
Additional news of a Ukrainian airplane carrying at least 170 passengers appeared to be shot down shortly after takeoff near the airport in Tehran, killing all on board.
Pir Hossein Kulivand, an Iranian emergency official, later told state TV all those on board were killed in the crash. He said rescuers were trying to collect the dead. A photo published by Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency showed rescue officials in a farm field, with what appeared to be pieces of the aircraft laying nearby.
The Iranian Student News Agency (ISNA) shared a video online that shows the plane catch fire as it descends.
An investigation team was at the site of the crash in southwestern outskirts of Tehran, civil aviation spokesman Reza Jafarzadeh said.
“After taking off from Imam Khomeini international airport it crashed between Parand and Shahriar,” Jafarzadeh said. “An investigation team from the national aviation department was dispatched to the location after the news was announced.”
While Iran is claiming that the crash was due to “technical difficulties” there is speculation that the Iranians feared that the plane was an American bomber and subsequently shot the passenger plane down.