Iran Revolutionary Guard Fires Missiles at U.S. Military Base in Iraq

Iranian forces have launched missiles at a number of Iraqi military installations housing U.S. and allied forces in Iraq.

Ayn al-Asad Air Base and other sites in Kurdistan's Erbil were hit Tuesday by cruise missiles and short-range ballistic missiles launched from within neighboring Iran, Pentagon officials and an Iraqi intelligence official told Newsweek.

No casualties have been reported so far.

Iran's Revolutionary Guard claimed responsibility for the attacks in a statement, calling it "revenge for the brutal assassination" of the elite military group's Quds Force commander Major General Qassem Soleimani in a U.S. drone strike on Thursday near Baghdad International Airport. The U.S. claimed the storied Iranian military figure had "plans to attack" U.S. personnel in the region, but officials have yet to release evidence of such calculations.

"At approximately 5:30 p.m. (EST) on January 7, Iran 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-Assad and Irbil," Pentagon spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement.

"We are working on initial battle damage assessments," he added.

"We are aware of the reports of attacks on US facilities in Iraq," White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement. "The President has been briefed and is monitoring the situation closely and consulting with his national security team."

Trump himself later tweeted: "All is well! Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq," Trump tweeted Tuesday. "Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good! We have the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world, by far! I will be making a statement tomorrow morning."

Soleimani was killed alongside Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces militia deputy leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and others whose deaths have dramatically exacerbated already simmering U.S.-Iran tensions that have crescendoed during a week of tit-for-tat exchanges between the U.S. and Iran-backed Iraqi paramilitary fighters. Massive crowds in Iran and Iraq mourned Soleimani for days.

The United States has designated the Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization. The Revolutionary Guard has called for the Pentagon to leave the region and warned regional powers not to get involved.

"In recent days and in response to Iranian threats and actions, the Department of Defense has taken all appropriate measures to safeguard our personnel and partners. These bases have been on high alert due to indications that the Iranian regime planned to attack our forces and interests in the region," Hoffman said.

iran, military, iraq, attack, soleimani
An Iranian mourner holds a placard during the final stage of funeral processions for slain top general Qassem Soleimani, in his hometown Kerman on January 7. ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images

"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," he added.

After Newsweek reported Thursday on Soleimani's death, President Donald Trump posted a picture of a U.S. flag on Twitter. Saeed Jalili, Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's representative to the Supreme National Security Council, tweeted an image of an Iranian flag Tuesday following the strikes in Iraq.

Once the dust settled Tuesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted that "Iran took & concluded 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." The article grants nations "the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security."

"We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression," Zarif, who has so far not been granted his U.S. visa to attend an upcoming U.N. Security Council session in New York, added.

Trump has warned of retaliation should Iran strike U.S. personnel or interests, saying Monday the U.S. has "targeted 52 Iranian sites — some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture." He later denied he would hit cultural sites, and promised to obey international law.

Iraq's parliament voted Sunday to oust U.S. forces who acted unilaterally in their strikes on Iraqi militias and in the operation to kill Soleimani. Trump refused to withdraw troops, threatening sanctions against Baghdad and warning the Pentagon would not pull out unless the Iraqi government paid "billions" for the very same Ayn al-Asad Air Base that was struck Tuesday.

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi said the government should take "urgent measures" to facilitate such a pullout of foreign forces. The U.S. sent his office a letter Monday that appeared to announce the beginning of a withdrawal, but later called it a draft sent by mistake.

Abdul-Mahdi, however, said Tuesday he would treat the document as official as the NATO Western military alliance announced a suspension of its training program in the country. The Iraqi leader has sought to balance ties between both Washington and Tehran, two powers that came to Baghdad's aid against the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) in 2014.

A combination of regional tensions and U.S.-imposed sanctions along with the defeat of the jihadis and Trump's withdrawal from a multilateral deal in 2018, have refueled a decades-long feud that has included U.S. attacks against Iranian military and civilians. Tehran's allies have also targeted U.S. military personnel, and the State Department has blamed the Islamic Republic for the deaths of more than 600 U.S. troops from the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 until the Pentagon's initial withdrawal in 2011.

The U.S. has also accused Iran of conducting attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman last spring and striking Saudi oil facilities last September in a precision drone and missile attack claimed by Yemen's Zaidi Shiite Muslim Ansar Allah, or Houthi, movement.

After Tuesday's situation appeared to calm, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke by telephone with Kurdistan Regional Government Prime Minister Masrour Barzani—whose cousin KRG President Nechirvan Barzani recently offered the Iranian government condolences by over Soleimani's death—in order to "update him on the Iranian missile attacks on Iraqi Air Bases, including in Erbil," according to a statement released by the State Department. The two sides "agreed to stay in close touch as the situation develops."

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