Iran launches more than a dozen ballistic missiles targeting US forces in Iraq: Pentagon

The move marks a continued escalation between the U.S. and Iran in the wake of the killing of Qassem Soleimani

By Joseph Neese

Deputy Editor in Chief

Published January 7, 2020 7:17PM (EST)


The Department of Defense confirmed Tuesday evening that Iran had launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles targeting U.S. military and coalition forces in Iraq, where President Donald Trump ordered the killing of Qassem Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force unit.

The apparent retaliation comes just days after the death of the military leader, who though revered in Iran was responsible for killing and threatening the lives of many Americans, according to the Pentagon. The action marks a continued escalation between two nations who many politicians and onlookers have cautioned appear to be on the verge of "war."

The president tweeted that "all is well" thus far as the Pentagon continued to assess initial battle damages. He announced that he would not deliver a statement until Wednesday morning.

"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!" the president wrote. "We have the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world, by far!"

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said Iran did not seek further escalation, though it would continue to respond to American aggression.

"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," he tweeted. "We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression."

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was reportedly notified during a leadership meeting by note. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., told ABC News that Pelosi asked her colleagues present to pray with her.

"Closely monitoring the situation following bombings targeting U.S. troops in Iraq," Pelosi later tweeted. "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.

The Pentagon said the Iranian missiles targeted Iraqi military bases, which were hosting American troops.

"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," the department said.

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper warned earlier Tuesday from the Pentagon that the U.S. was ready to retaliate in the event of Iranian aggression.

"I would like to say we are not looking to start a war with Iran, but we are prepared to finish one," Esper said. "As I've told my many colleagues as I spoke to them over the last few days, what we like to see is the situation be de-escalated and for Iran to sit down with us to begin a discussion about a better way ahead."

Trump lashed out Tuesday at Democrats who warned of potential consequences of his order to take out Soleimani.

“I don’t hear too many people other than politicians who are trying to win the presidency,” Trump said Tuesday from the Oval Office. 'Those are the ones that are complaining, but I don’t hear anybody else complaining."
In the immediate aftermath of Soleimani's death, former Vice President Joe Biden was among those who warned that the U.S. could be on "the brink of a major conflict across the Middle East."
"President Trump just tossed a stick of dynamite into a tinderbox," Biden said in a statement at the time. "And he owes the American people an explanation of the strategy and plan to keep safe our troops and embassy personnel, our people and our interests, both here at home and abroad."


By Joseph Neese

Joseph Neese is Salon's Deputy Editor in Chief. You can follow him on Twitter: @josephneese.

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