At least four English-language Iranian regime sites claimed Wednesday missile strikes targeting Iraqi airbases housing U.S. troops killed “at least 80 American forces,” a claim the U.S. government has not corroborated nor has any evidence surfaced to support it at press time.
Iran claimed responsibility for over a dozen missiles shot out of its sovereign territory towards the Iraqi airbase Ain al-Assad early Wednesday morning local time. The missiles are part of “Operation Martyr Soleimani,” a military response to the American airstrike last week that eliminated Major General Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force. Soleimani was responsible for hundreds of American deaths, thousands of casualties, and was believed to be planning a new imminent attack on Americans.
Several other reports indicated that bases near Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, and the Taji base may have also come under fire. The Pentagon has yet to offer specifics on the assault, but President Donald Trump indicated in a late-night Twitter post that “all is well” and Washington has no evidence of casualties.
The lack of evidence that the missiles did any human damage contradicted the reports in Iran’s Tasnim, Fars, PressTV, and Mehr news agencies, all citing unnamed sources within the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the wing of the armed forces allegedly responsible for the attack. The IRGC is a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization, the only one identified as an official state organ.
The four agencies operate as propaganda mouthpieces for the Iranian regime.
“An informed source at the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps said the IRGC’s missile attack on US airbase of Ain al-Assad in Iraq has killed at least 80 American forces,” Tasnim breathlessly reported, referring to U.S. troops as “terrorist forces.”
“At least 104 targets from the positions of the Americans and their allies in the region have been identified, and if the Americans make any mistake again, those positions will be targeted,” the source allegedly stated, adding that significant damage to American aircraft also occurred.
“[T]he accuracy and destructive power of the missiles have been so high that a number of the missiles annihilated several sensitive targets simultaneously each,” the source insisted.
Tasnim also claimed that “no Iraqi citizen” was among the casualties of the attack despite the missiles targeting Iraqi airbases. The outlet repeatedly claimed, inaccurately, that Ain al-Assad is a “U.S. airbase,” not an Iraqi airbase housing U.S. troops.
Fars News Agency added that 200 American troops were allegedly wounded in the attack.
“Early estimates indicate heavy US casualties in Iran’s missile attack,” another anonymous IRGC source told Fars. The Fars report claimed that hundreds of wounded were being evacuated in choppers out of the airbase, a claim that remains unsubstantiated by evidence of any aircraft flying in that area.
The Fars report added that Iran is ready to attack another 104 “sensitive U.S. positions” if Washington retaliates and threatened an attack on “the Zionist regime” in Israel. No evidence exists publicly of a relationship between the Israeli government and the U.S. airstrike on Soleimani.
The Mehr news report echoed Tasnim and Fars.
>“According to the accurate reports of our sources in this area, at least 80 American terrorist troops were killed and some 200 others were wounded, who were immediately transferred out of the airbase by helicopters,” an “informed source” told the outlet. “Despite the fact that Americans had been on high alert, their air defense was unable to respond.”
PressTV highlighted the claim that the U.S. did not intercept any of the missiles shot at Iraqi targets and said only there were “initial reports of casualties.” It alone had an on-the-record Iranian military source on the casualties.
Deputy Commander for Operations Brigadier General Abbas Nilforoushan claimed that the missiles “precisely hit their intended targets.”
“The IRGC managed to destroy the arrogance’s command center in the region,” he alleged, threatening a “staggering, painful, crushing, and regret-inducing response” if America acts following the missile attack.
The Pentagon confirmed late Tuesday Eastern time that Iranian forces shot missiles at U.S. military assets.
“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 [Erbil],” Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Jonathan Hoffman said. “Due to the dynamic nature of the situation, we will continue to provide updates as they become available.”
President Donald Trump issued a statement late Tuesday that appeared to indicate he had no information of American casualties.
“All is well! Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq,” Trump said. Of casualties, he added, “So far, so good!”
All is well! Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq. 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.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 8, 2020
An unnamed U.S. official appeared to corroborate reports of no U.S. casualties, telling CNN that there was no evidence yet of any but ongoing assessments continued. CNN also noted that the Iraqi military claimed no casualties among their ranks, either.
The only potential victims appear to be the passengers of a Ukrainian Boeing 737, which crashed over Iran mysteriously during the missile assault. All 176 people onboard are presumed dead. The Iranian regime rapidly claimed mechanical failure and refused to hand over the plane’s black box to Boeing; Ukrainian airline officials say the plane was one of their best, had been tested for failure on Monday, and they had no indication of any mechanical failure.