Avenging General’s Killing, Iran Strikes at U.S. Troops in Iraq, Trump Weighs Response

Iranian forces fired missiles at military bases housing U.S. troops in Iraq on Wednesday in retaliation for the U.S. killing of an Iranian general, raising the stakes in its conflict with Washington amid concern of a wider war in the Middle East.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, addressing a gathering of Iranians chanting “Death to America”, said the attacks were a “slap on the face” of the United States and U.S. troops should leave the region.

Tehran’s foreign minister said Iran took “proportionate measures” in self-defense and did not seek to escalate the confrontation.

The next move appeared to lie with Washington.

U.S. President Donald Trump, who ordered the drone strike that killed General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad on Friday, gave an initial response on Twitter: “All is well!”.

Casualties and damage from the missile attacks were being assessed and Trump said he would make a statement on Wednesday.

Trump, who was impeached last month and faces an election this year, at the weekend threatened to target 52 Iranian sites if Iran retaliated for Soleimani’s killing.

CASUALTY TOLL DISPUTED

Iranian state television said Iran had fired 15 ballistic missiles from its territory at U.S. targets in its neighbor Iraq. The bases targeted were al-Asad air base and another facility in Erbil, the Pentagon said.

One source said early indications were of no U.S. casualties, while other U.S. officials declined to comment.

Iranian television said 80 “American terrorists” had been killed and U.S. helicopters and military equipment damaged. It provided no evidence of how it obtained that information.

Germany, Denmark, Norway and Poland said none of their troops in Iraq were hurt. Britain, which also has personnel in Iraq, condemned the Iranian action. Iraq said its forces did not suffer casualties.

More than 5,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq along with the other foreign forces in a coalition that has trained and backed Iraqi forces against the threat of Islamic State militants.

“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,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said.

In Tehran, Khamenei said in a televised speech: “Military action like this is not sufficient. What is important is ending the corrupting presence of America in the region,” renewing Tehran’s long-standing demand for Washington to withdraw its forces.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the strikes “concluded” Tehran’s response to the killing of Soleimani, who had been responsible for building up Iran’s network of proxy armies across the Middle East. He was buried in his hometown Kerman on Monday after days of national mourning.

“We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression,” he wrote on Twitter.

Iranian television reported an official in the supreme leader’s office as saying the missile attacks were the “weakest” of several retaliation scenarios. It quoted another source saying Iran had lined up 100 other potential targets.

The state media also showed footage of what it said were the missiles being fired into the night sky. In the background, voices shouted “God is greatest”. It also showed what it said were images of the blasts where they struck. It was not possible to verify the images’ authenticity.

Tehran’s defense minister said the missiles were Iranian-built.

WAY OUT?

Oil prices rose on Wednesday but retreated from peaks hit in frenzied early trading following the missile attack. [O/R].

Analysts said market tension could ease as long as oil production facilities remain unaffected. They also saw Trump and Zarif’s comments as signaling a period of calm, at least for now.

If the U.S. military was spared casualties and Iran takes no further measures to retaliate for Soleimani’s killing, there might be an opportunity for Washington and Tehran to seek a way out of their increasingly violent confrontation.

Analysts have said that despite its strident rhetoric, Iran will want to avoid any conventional military conflict with superior U.S. forces. In the past, they say it has focused on asymmetric strikes, such as sabotage or other military action via proxies.

U.S. officials said Soleimani was killed because of intelligence indicating forces under his command planned attacks on U.S. targets in the region. They have not provided evidence.

Before Soleimani was buried his body was taken on a tour of cities in Iraq and Iran, drawing huge crowds. A stampede at his funeral on Tuesday killed at least 56 people.

An hour after the Iranian missile attack, state television showed footage of the burial, where hundreds of people started chanting “God is greatest” when the strikes were announced over loudspeakers.

“His revenge was taken and now he can rest in peace,” Iranian television said.

Friction between Iran and the United States rose after Trump withdrew in 2018 from a nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, approved by his predecessor Barack Obama, and reimposed sanctions on Tehran slashing its vital oil exports.

Khamenei, in his speech on Wednesday, ruled out any resumption of talks with Washington on the 2015 deal.

Trump’s U.S. political rivals have challenged his decision to order Soleimani’s killing and questioned its timing in a U.S. election year.

Democrats in the U.S. Congress and some of the party’s presidential contenders warned about the escalating conflict.

“We must ensure the safety of our service members, including ending needless provocations from the Administration and demanding that Iran cease its violence. America & world cannot afford war,” U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Twitter.

In an apparently unrelated incident, a Ukrainian airliner with more than 160 people on board crashed on Wednesday soon after taking off from Tehran, killing all on board.

(Reporting by Ahmed Aboulenein in Baghdad, Parisa Hafezi and Babak Dehghanpisheh in Dubai, Phil Stewart, Steve Holland and Eric Beech in Washington, Michelle Nichols at the United Nations, Steve Scherer in Ottawa and Robin Emmott in Brussels, Writing by Edmund Blair and Angus MacSwan, Editing by Janet Lawrence)

Responses

  1. >>Hector Espada<<

    Have you read where Commie Bernie and the fake Indian squaw are going to hold a conference call with the National Islamic American Council probably to tell the terrorist scumbags how "truly sorry" they are that Bad Orange Man killed the World's leading (Iranian) terrorist? This is certainly another clear example of putting and financing terrorism (RE: Barry's gift of $150 BILLION to the Iranian mullahs) ahead of our Nation's security by the members of the Party of Hate America while pandering for votes. The words "sedition", "treason" and "anti-American" come to mind.

  2. IF there were any American casualties , then the administration would be stupid not to say so AND use it as a pretext to further destroy Iran’s economy.

    Anyone who believes otherwise is gullible and ant-American. q.v. the Tokyo Rose broadcast.

  3. Paul, again you attack the messenger rather than the message. You obviously have no clue regarding the underlying meaning behind my alias and that reveals your ignorance of all things political past and present.

    Hint: It ain’t sexual, but that’s where your mind is obviously at.

    Again, when you get promoted past 3rd grade, we’ll talk, K? Until then, GFY moron! K?

    1. Would your alias have anything to do with the 2000 election here in Florida? Thought so.

  4. Douchebag Paul: “ Greg, such an intelligent, anti-American response. I’m proud of you! We need more like you!! CONGRATS!!!”

    As Douchebag Paul adds his own 3rd grade response: “Trump weighs response?” The only thing that pumkin-head weighs is the weight of his hair to see if he needs more Bryl-cream.”

    Well done, Paul! I’d say we need more of you too but i’d be lying. We have enough Democrat Douchebag politicians and their supporters!

    1. If you are really think you are “well-hung,” you must have either a better idea of you, or a more clear-cleaned mirror. (Do you really think your nights want you for your mind?)

    2. I am tired of people like you calling these DemocRAT dimwits “douchebags” when they obviously have sh** for brains and talk out of their ass. Fact check.

  5. “Trump weighs response?” The only thing that pumkin-head weighs is the weight of his hair to see if he needs more Bryl-cream.

  6. We killed their top terrorist commanders and they waste their missiles killing absolutely nobody and doing minor damage. Iran bark all you want but the world knows you’re nothing more than a lap dog barking at a saint Bernard, and if you bite the much larger dog will tear you apart and they know it.

    1. You are confused, William.

      Iran notified what they were going to do beforehand, so that the area could be cleared of personelle, just like we did to the Russians in Syria, a few years ago.

      They were the adults in the room.

  7. Simple foreign policy: you attack 1 target, we attack 10. You kill 1 American, we kill 100 of YOU…!

    1. Greg, such an intelligent, anti-American response. I’m proud of you! We need more like you!! CONGRATS!!!

  8. American traitors Warren Pelosi and Schumer will not like any kind of response.

  9. WHY are oil prices increasing if the United States is now exporting oil and free from importing oil for the first time (under President Trump) in over 75 years? [Gasoline prices have increased 12 cents per gallon to $2.49 for regular here in North Florida.)

  10. Launch the B-52’s, Mr. President, and wipe that sandbox off the face of the Earth. Collateral damage be damned.

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