Iran has begun retaliation for the killing of Qasem Soleimani, a leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force, by U.S. drone attacks on Friday (local time).
According to the Iranian state-run media Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) and CNN, Iran launched about 10 ballistic missiles on Wednesday at two military bases housing U.S. troops in Iraq. Targeted locations were Al-Asad airbase in Anbar province and Erbil base and the attack was carried out at 1:20 a.m. when Soleimani was bombed to death. The operation was named “martyr General Qasem Soleimani” and exact casualties are yet to be known.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Thursday that last night was “a slap in the face” delivered to the U.S. Against this backdrop, Iran’s direct retaliation will further strain the U.S.-Iran relations that have experienced rising tensions as of late. In the case of U.S. casualties caused by the attack, it may lead to full-scale war. The U.S. launched large-scale attacks on Iran following the death of an American civilian by the pro-Iran Shia militia in Iraq on December 27, 2019.
The Washington Post and The Associated Press reported that U.S. Department of Defense officials said there were no immediate reports of casualties. However, as Iran forewarned additional attacks on the U.S. and its allies, the situation can take a turn for the worse. Some Iranian media companies, including Tehran Times, even reported that over 80 U.S. military personnel were killed from the missile attack quoting a source close to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
The U.S. Defense Department said it will respond as soon as learning the details of the attack. “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,” said Jonathan Hoffman, an assistant to the U.S. defense secretary.
U.S. President Donald Trump is scheduled to deliver a statement on Wednesday morning and announced response measures to the Iranian attack. “All is well!” President Donald Trump tweeted shortly after a meeting with his advising staff on Tuesday evening, adding, “Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good!” He also went on to tweet, “We have the most powerful and well-equipped military anywhere in the world, by far! I will be making a statement tomorrow morning.” The White House said the president discussed response measures with the leaders of U.S. allies in Europe and the Middle East, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, over the phone.
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