Iran began to launch over a dozen ballistic missiles targeting U.S. airbases in Iraq on Tuesday, U.S. officials confirmed.
Iran is taking credit for a rocket attack targeting the al-Assad airbase in Iraq, which houses U.S. troops. They announced that the missiles were part of “Shahid [martyr] Soleimani Operation,” hinting at an extended military operation against the United States. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) – not Hezbollah or one of many Iranian proxies in Iraq – took credit for the bombs.
Iranian state media did note later in the night Eastern time that the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) – a coalition of pro-Iran Shiite militias that Iraq has legalized into a formal wing of its armed forces, had “announced the start of Crushing Response Operation to the United States.”
As the PMF are legally a wing of the Iraqi military, any formal military operation on their part would constitute a military attack by Iraq against the United States. The U.S. military cooperated with the PMF in strategic operations against the Islamic State and recently suspended training operations for Iraqi troops.
“IRGC announced further details will be revealed soon,” several Iranian media outlets noted.
PressTV later carried a statement from the IRGC warning nations allied with the United States to cut ties or face military attack.
“We warn US allies providing bases for the [American] terrorist army … that any country serving as the origin of bellicose and aggressive attacks in any form against the Islamic Republic of Iran will be targeted,” the IRGC statement reportedly read.
The IRGC is a U.S. designated terrorist organization. The Iranian government branded the U.S. military a terrorist organization in response to the designation on the IRGC in April 2019.
Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement:
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. We are working on initial battle damage assessments.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. 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. Due to the dynamic nature of the situation, we will continue to provide updates as they become available.
Iranian state TV claimed that the attack is in retaliation for the death of terrorist mastermind Qasem Soleimani, the late head of the IRGC Quds Force. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard also issued a warning to American allies, including Israel.
“We are warning all American allies, who gave their bases to its terrorist army, that any territory that is the starting point of aggressive acts against Iran will be targeted,” the Guard said via the IRNA news agency.
The Fars News Agency, an Iranian state broadcaster, posted a live video feed of the assault online. PressTV claimed that the assault consisted of “tens of surface-to-surface missiles.”
Since the initial reports of the attack, multiple media sources are confirming the beginning of a second wave of rocket fire.
White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said the president is “monitoring the situation closely”:
We are aware of the reports of attacks on US facilities in Iraq. The President has been briefed and is monitoring the situation closely and consulting with his national security team.
— Stephanie Grisham (@PressSec) January 7, 2020
Neither Iranian media nor the U.S. government officials have confirmed any casualties in relation to the rocket attacks, nor any property damage.
After online rumors initially suggested that President Donald Trump may address the nation regarding the attack, New York Times and Fox News reporters asserted that Trump would not be delivering remarks.
The Federal Aviation Administration issued notices banning American flights over several Mideast regions following the attack.
FAA just out with three NOTAMs banning US operations (US air carriers, US-registered aircraft, licensed airmen) over Iran, Iraq, the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman pic.twitter.com/dcmuqdASfb
— Ethan Klapper (@ethanklapper) January 8, 2020
This is a breaking news story. It will be updated as the news develops.