U.S. Confirms Iranian Missile Strikes on Iraqi Bases Housing U.S. Troops

Ain al-Asad air base in Iraq on Dec. 29, 2019.
Photo: Nasser Nasser (AP)

The Department of Defense said in a statement on Tuesday evening (EST) that the Iranian military retaliated against the Trump administration’s assassination of Quds Force commander Major General Qassem Soleimani last week, launching “more than a dozen ballistic missiles against U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq” in the early hours of Wednesday morning local time.

According to the Pentagon, at least two bases where U.S. military personnel are stationed were targeted—the Ayn al Asad airbase in western Iraq and a military base in Erbil. Details were light, but in a statement sent to Gizmodo, the Pentagon said that the bases were on high alert against possible retaliation and that it was still working on “initial battle damage assessments.” Military sources told reporters that claims of a third strike at Camp Taji were wrong.

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A U.S. official told CNN it had no reports of casualties.

Senior officials including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, and Vice President Mike Pence had gathered at the White House on Tuesday night but have since left the building, according to CNN. There’s been no announcement as of yet regarding a potential national address by Donald Trump, and CNN wrote that earlier reports stating preparations were underway for one tonight have not panned out. White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham told the network she would not be issuing further written statements until Wednesday.

Late on Tuesday evening, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted that Iran had “took & concluded proportionate measures in self-defense.” He added the nation does “not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression.”

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In the meantime, disinformation is circulating online about the scale of the attacks; a thread by a former CIA staffer on Twitter purported to show that images of the attack sent out by semi-official Iranian sources like the Fars News Agency were reused from prior incidents, including a pipeline explosion in southern Iran.

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This is a breaking news story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

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Update: 9:45 p.m. ET: This post has been updated to reflect that military officials have denied reports of a third strike against joint U.S.-Iraqi bases in Iraq.

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Tom McKay

"... An upperclassman who had been researching terrorist groups online." - Washington Post