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Iran Launches Missile Strikes At U.S. Troops In Iraq, Casualties Unclear

Iran said it launched rockets targeting multiple sites in Iraq, including two military bases housing U.S. troops.
Iran said it launched rockets targeting multiple sites in Iraq, including two military bases housing U.S. troops.

Iran has carried out a ballistic-missile attack against U.S. forces stationed in Iraq in retaliation for the killing last week of a prominent Iranian military commander.

Iranian state television said Iran had fired 15 missiles at U.S. targets in Iraq early on January 8. The U.S. military said at least two Iraqi facilities hosting U.S.-led coalition personnel were targeted in the overnight attack.

It is unclear if there have been any casualties.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) claimed responsibility for the attacks, Iranian state television and state news agencies reported.

The attack on the Ain Assad base, which hosts U.S. troops, was "a total success by all accounts," the IRGC said.

U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted shortly after the missile attacks: "All is well!" adding, "So far, so good" regarding casualties.

“We are aware of the reports of attacks on U.S. facilities in Iraq,” the White House told reporters according to a media pool report. “The president [Donald Trump] has been briefed and is monitoring the situation closely and consulting with his national-security team.”

Iranian state television claimed, without offering evidence, that the strikes killed “at least 80 terrorist U.S soldiers” and also damaged helicopters, drones, and other equipment at the Ain al-Asad air base.

The Iraqi military said 22 missiles were fired.

"There were no victims among the Iraqi forces," the military said.

Defense Department spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said: “It is clear that these missiles were launched from Iran."

The IRGC said the multiple attacks were in retaliation for the killing of IRGC commander Qasem Soleimani, who died in a U.S. air strike last week in Baghdad.

A communique from the Iranian military promised “more crushing responses” should the United States retaliate.

It further added that the operation is code-named "Martyr Soleimani” and advised the United States to withdraw its troops from the region to prevent the killing of soldiers.

Following the attack, several major airlines said on January 8 that they were rerouting flights to avoid airspace over Iraq and Iran, while the Federal Aviation Administration banned U.S. carriers from the area.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper arrived at the White House after the attacks, while Vice President Mike Pence has been in contact with congressional leaders by phone.

The multiple attacks came hours after Soleimani was buried in his hometown on January 7.

Iran’s military leaders and pro-Iranian factions in Iraq had vowed to avenge his death.

A day earlier in Washington, Esper told reporters that he anticipated Iran would retaliate for the death of Soleimani "in some way, shape, or form."

"We're prepared for any contingency. And then we will respond appropriately to whatever they do," he warned.

Professor Stephen David of Johns Hopkins University told Voice of America that while Iran's retaliation wasn't unexpected, it was surprising that Tehran chose to launch the attack from its own territory and use ballistic missiles -- a weapon substantially more powerful than a rocket.

"I think it was surprising that the attack was from Iran. It was not at all deniable," David said. "It was clear what the source of the attack was; the fact they use ballistic missiles also was a bit of a surprise, something of an escalation."

With reporting by AP, TASS, Reuters, Al Jazeera, dpa, and AFP