Iran's IRGC fires 22 missiles at bases hosting US, coalition troops in Anbar and Erbil

No casualties reported by Iraq, US
Remnants of an Iranian missile fired at al-Asad air base, but missed and landed near Hit in Anbar province (Photo Credit: Al-Sumeria News)

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SULAIMANI — Iran fired a total of twenty-two missiles at two bases in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region that host US and coalition forces early on Wednesday morning (January 8) in retaliation for the assassination of one of its top commanders by the US five days ago.

In a mid-morning statement, the Iraqi military said that seventeen missiles targeted al-Asad air base in Anbar province, with two of them failing to explode.

Five missiles were launched at a base in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Region. At least one seems not to have exploded.

The Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) Ministry of Interior said that the attack on the base in Erbil did not result in any casualties or damage.

The military said that there were no Iraqi casualties as a result of the attack. The US and other coalition governments also said that none of their forces were killed or wounded in the strikes.

Iranian media outlets reported that the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps claimed credit for the attack in a statement, characterizing it as a response to the assassination of Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad by the US on January 3.

The IRGC also warned other countries in the region that installations hosting US troops could also potentially be targets.

“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-Asad and Erbil, the US Department of Defense said in a statement.

In Erbil, a siren sounded near the US consulate in the suburb of Ankawa, but the missiles landed in areas outside the nearby base without causing serious damage.

Shortly after the attack began, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham tweeted that US President Donald Trump had been briefed about the situation and was monitoring the situation closely along with his national security team.

On Tuesday, US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper warned that Iranian action was to be expected.

“I think we should expect that they will retaliate in some way, shape or form,” he told a news briefing at the Pentagon, adding that such retaliation could be through Iran-backed proxy groups outside of Iran or “by their own hand.”

“We’re prepared for any contingency. And then we will respond appropriately to whatever they do.”

Several hours after the attack Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted that the attacks were “proportionate measures in self-defense under Article 51 of UN Charter targeting base from which cowardly armed attack against our citizens & senior officials were launched.”

“We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression,” he added.

Al-Asad was visited by Trump during his surprise visit to the country in December 2018. Vice President Mike Pence visited over the Thanksgiving holiday in November.

(NRT Digital Media)

This story was updated at 11:10 a.m. EBL