Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles against US military and coalition forces in Iraq, the Pentagon said.
“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 Al-Assad and Irbil,” according to a statement from Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Jonathan Hoffman At approximately 5:30 p.m. (EST).
“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,” he said.
“As we evaluate the situation and our response, we will take all necessary measures to protect and defend US personnel, partners, and allies in the region. Due to the dynamic nature of the situation, we will continue to provide updates as they become available,” Hoffman added.
The attack came in three waves just after midnight, the sources said.
Sirens were heard and American helicopters flew over the air base, and total alert has been activated, according to Al Mayadeen TV.
Military jets could be seen flying over the Iraqi capital early Wednesday, hours after Tehran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles at Iraqi bases where US troops are located.
AFP’s correspondents saw jets cutting through the clouds over Baghdad but could not immediately identify the planes.
Ain Assad air base is located in Iraq’s western Anbar province. It was first used by American forces after the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein. It later saw American troops stationed there amid the fight against the ISIS group in Iraq and Syria.
Iran State TV said the operation’s name was “Marytr Soleimani.” It said the Guard’s aerospace division, which controls Iran’s missile program, launched the attack “with tens of missiles” and promised “more crushing responses” in case of further US attacks, the state-run PressTV said on Twitter and 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.
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said the White House is aware of the reports.
President Trump briefed
“The President has been briefed and is monitoring the situation closely and consulting with his national security team,” she said.
President Donald Trump had visited the base in his December 2018 trip to Iraq.
The attack on the Ain al-Asad airbase came after pro-Tehran factions in Iraq had vowed to join forces to “respond” to an American drone strike that killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi top commander Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes in Baghdad last week.
- With Agencies