Iran has threatened it will attack within the US if it responds to the launch of “tens” of surface-to-surface missiles at Iraq’s Ain Assad air base housing US troops.
State TV described it as Tehran's revenge operation over the killing of Revolutionary Guard General Qassem Soleimani on Friday.
The Pentagon has confirmed missile attacks on US bases but said there was no immediate information on any damage or casualties.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard has warned the US and its regional allies against retaliating over the missile attack in Iraq.
The Guard issued the warning via a statement carried by Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency, according to the Associated Press.
“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. It also threatened Israel.
The Iranian Revolutionary Guard also said, “this time we will respond to you in America”, according to CNN.
Fox News reported multiple sites coming under fire, according to a military source which told the publication: “Under missile attack from Iran. These are either cruise missiles or short-range ballistic missiles. All over the country.”
The pentagon confirmed at least a dozen missiles were fired, hitting at least two US bases.
“It's clear that these missiles were launched from Iran and target Iraqi military bases holding US military,” it said in a statement.
The US acknowledged another missile attack on a base in Erbil in Iraq’s semiautonomous Kurdish region.
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said the White House is watching the situation closely.
The following statement is attributed to @ChiefPentSpox: At approximately 1730 EST on Jan. 7, Iran launched at least a dozen ballistic missiles against U.S. military & coalition forces in Iraq.
— Department of Defense 🇺🇸 (@DeptofDefense) January 8, 2020
“The President has been briefed and is monitoring the situation closely and consulting with his national security team,” she said.
Ain Assad air base, which was hit by Iranian missile fire, is in Iraq’s western Anbar province. It was first used by American forces after the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein. It later saw American troops stationed there amid the fight against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.
CNN initially reported there has been casualties of Iraqi personnel at the base. However the White House on Thursday (AEST) said there was no Iraqis killed.
Quick note: Al Asad is an Iraqi military base hosting coalition troops. It's not an American base. There are far more Iraqi forces at the base than American.
— Rasha Al Aqeedi (@RashaAlAqeedi) January 8, 2020
Iranian State TV said the Wednesday morning (AEST) that the operation was named “Martyr Soleimani.” It said the Guard’s aerospace division that controls Iran’s missile program launched the attack.
Iran said it would release more information later.
A correspondent in Iran for America’s ABC network reported that the country’s Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, had earlier told her as soon as Iran made a retaliatory attack, they would tell the world and would claim credit for it. It’s retaliation would not be through proxies, she said, as news broke of the attack.
— Farnaz Fassihi (@farnazfassihi) January 7, 2020
Iranian official warns any US retaliation will lead to regional war
Any US retaliation to Iran's missile attacks on American targets in Iraq could lead to an all-out war in the Middle East, an adviser to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani tweeted on Wednesday.
"Any adverse military action by the US will be met with an all out war across the region. The Saudis, however, could take a different path – they could have total peace!" Hessameddin Ashena said in a statement on Twitter.
Tehran and Riyadh have been involved in proxy wars across the region for decades, from Iraq to Syria and Yemen. Iran has repeatedly urged its regional rival Saudi Arabia to improve ties with Tehran.
Scott Morrison briefed on attack
Scott Morrison has been briefed on reports Iran has attacked a United States military base in Iraq.
The prime minister spoke to defence chief Angus Campbell and minister Linda Reynolds about the reported strike on Wednesday, AAP reported.
Mr Morrison has also spoken with Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese to update him on the unfolding situation.
— Baxtiyar Goran (@BaxtiyarGoran) January 8, 2020
Earlier there were reports "shelter in place" sirens had been heard at the Taji base in northern Baghdad, which houses Australian and allied troops.
In a statement issued Wednesday morning, The Prime Minister’s office said Mr Morrison “has directed the Chief of the Defence Force to take whatever actions are necessary to protect and defence our ADF and diplomatic personnel and keep Australia safe.”
The National Security Committee of the Cabinet is due to meet Thursday to discuss the situation in Iran.
World watches on: ‘A big day in history’
As tensions between the US and Iran continue to rise, the world watches on in concern.
In an apparent jab at US president Donald Trump, Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili tweeted a lone image of the Iranian flag shortly after the missile attacks.
It comes days after Trump posted a lone photo of the US flag after the US took responsibility for killing top Iranian general Soleimani in an air strike.
Mohammed-Javad Azari Jahromi, Iran’s Minister of Information and Communications Technology, however had a more blunt message.
“Get the hell out of our region!” he tweeted, before adding #HardRevenge.
New York City’s mayor Bill de Blasio said the city was praying for those in harm’s way in the Middle East.
“This city is praying for our US personnel in Iraq as well as any civilians on the ground and everyone in harm’s way tonight,” he wrote on Twitter.
In a seperate tweet he said: “We must STOP this march to war before it’s too late. The American people DO NOT want a war with Iran.”
Meanwhile leading US Democrat Nancy Pelosi said the America and the world “cannot afford war”.
Others noted the significance of Iran directly attack US troops, calling it a “big day in history”.
For the first time ever, Iran has directly attacked the USA. Today, on the 10th of Tevet 2020, will go down as a big day in history. #IranvsUSA
— Ghanem Nuseibeh (@gnuseibeh) January 8, 2020
Closely monitoring the situation following bombings targeting U.S. troops in Iraq. We must ensure the safety of our servicemembers, including ending needless provocations from the Administration and demanding that Iran cease its violence. America & world cannot afford war.
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) January 8, 2020
Iran is NOT Iraq. Or Kuwait or Syria or Somalia. It is a country of proud people with a rich heritage. They will not be easily intimidated by Trump and they will not back down. Unfortunately, the moron in the White House didn’t understand and appreciate that last week.
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) January 8, 2020
We must STOP this march to war before it’s too late.
The American people DO NOT want a war with Iran. It will put our men and women in uniform in even more danger — and it won’t make our country any safer.
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) January 8, 2020
USA launched a war of conquest against Iraq 17 years ago and has never been able to control all of the country.
Iran is triple the size of Iraq.
— Lawrence O'Donnell (@Lawrence) January 8, 2020
Trump has meanwhile tweeted that “all is well”.
“Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq. Assessment of causalities and 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,” he said.
Trump defends need for Soleimani assassination
Hours before the attack, US President Donald Trump and his top advisers were under pressure to disclose more details about the intelligence that led to an American airstrike which killed Iran’s top military commander Qassem Soleimani.
Trump claimed his decision saved American lives and that members of Congress will get a briefing on the reasons for the US attack.
“We saved a lot of lives,” Trump said. “They were planning something.”
So far, Trump and top national security officials have justified the airstrike with general statements about the threat posted by Soleimani, who commanded proxy forces outside Iran and was responsible for the deaths of American troops in Iraq.
But the details have been scarce.
“He’s no longer a monster. He’s dead,” Trump said. “And that’s a good thing for a lot of countries. He was planning a very big attack and a very bad attack for us and other people and we stopped him and I don’t think anybody can complain about it.”
UPDATE: This article has been updated following a White House statement saying there were no Iraqi personnel killed in the attack.
With AP and AAP
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