Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif: ‘We Do Not Seek Escalation or War’

Iranian Foreign Minister
AP/Hussein Malla

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on Tuesday called its ballistic missile attacks on Iraqi bases where U.S. troops are based “proportionate measures in self-defense,” suggesting it was revenge for the U.S.’s killing of Iranian terrorist leader Qasem Soleimani.

“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,” Zarif tweeted Tuesday.

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

The statement came after Iran launched ballistic missiles at two Iraqi bases where U.S. troops are stationed Tuesday evening around 5:30 p.m. ET.

Zarif’s statement indicated it was in response to the U.S.’s strike in Iraq that killed Soleimani, as well as the leader of Iran-controlled Shia militia forces in Iran, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Tuesday afternoon at a briefing that Soleimani was planning attacks against U.S. forces in the region that could have occurred within “days.”

Iran had pledged retaliation against the U.S., but it was not yet known when or in what form. It is not clear whether Iran intends to conduct further attacks.

The tit for tat began after Iranian-controlled Shia militia forces killed an American contractor and wounded U.S. forces in Iraq. The U.S. then conducted airstrikes in retaliation, killing more than 20 militia forces.

Those proxy forces and their supporters then attacked the U.S. embassy. Trump then ordered 100 Marines to Iraq, as well as about 3,500 U.S. paratroopers.

By Tuesday late evening, the Pentagon could not confirm any casualties from Tuesday evening’s missile attacks and was still conducting an assessment of any damages.

According to an early assessment, Iran launched 15 ballistic missiles — with ten hitting the Al Asad Air Base, one hitting a base in Erbil, and four failing in flight, according to ABC News.

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