Iran launches missiles at U.S. airbases in Iraq in retaliation for killing of commander

Source: Xinhua| 2020-01-08 13:35:16|Editor: zyl
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TEHRAN/WASHINGTON, Jan. 8 (Xinhua) -- Iran's Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) on Wednesday targeted U.S. bases in Iraq including al-Asad and Harir Camp to the north of Erbil with a second wave of surface-to-surface missiles, semi-official Fars news agency reported.

The attacks came after Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of the IRGC, was killed in a U.S. airstrike near Baghdad International Airport on Friday.

According to the report, Iran launched a dozen of ballistic missiles.

IRGC claimed responsibility for the missile attacks in a statement, saying that they were meant to retaliate the U.S. killing of Soleimani.

The missiles were probably of Fateh 313 type and they were launched from Iran's western Kermanshah Province, Fars News Agency reported.

Fateh 313 missiles are road-mobile single-stage solid-fueled surface-to-surface missiles with a range of 500 km.

"We warn all allied countries of the U.S. that they will be a target of military retaliation if attacks are launched from bases in their countries on Iran," the IRGC statement said.

It urged Americans to recall all their soldiers back home to prevent more damage.

An Iraqi army official in Anbar province anonymously told Xinhua that some 20 missiles hit Al-Asad airbase in al-Baghdadi area, some 190 km northwest of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, which houses hundreds of U.S. troops.

Sirens were heard in the airbase, while U.S. helicopters flew over the area, the source said.

Al-Asad, previously named al-Qadisiyah, is the second largest airbase in Iraq and has the largest number of U.S. troops in Iraq, along with others from coalition members.

The Iranian missiles also targeted another base located in Harir area, east of Erbil, capital of Iraq's semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan, said reports.

U.S. President Donald Trump later Tuesday appeared to downplay the Iranian missile attacks, while highlighting U.S. military strength at the same time.

"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!" Trump tweeted hours after Iran's military staged the missile attacks.

"We have the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world, by far! I will be making a statement tomorrow morning," he added.

The Pentagon confirmed in a statement earlier that Iran had launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles against U.S. 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 U.S. military and coalition personnel at al-Asad & Erbil, the statement said.

The bases have been on high alert due to indications that Iran planned to attack the U.S. forces and interests in the region, it noted.

The Pentagon also pointed out that it would take all necessary measures to protect and defend U.S. personnel, partners, and allies in the region.

Citing anonymous U.S. officials, U.S. media reported that there are no initial reports of any U.S. casualties caused by the missiles strikes.

Iran has fired as many as 15 ballistic missiles into Iraq, among which 10 missiles hit al-Asad Airbase, one hit a military base in Erbil, and four failed to hit their targets, the U.S. officials said.

The Iranian attacks came three days after the Iraqi parliament passed a resolution requiring the government to end the presence of foreign forces in Iraq and prevent them from using Iraqi airspace and waters.