(CNSNews.com) – Iranian officials and state media continue to promote the notion that the regime’s retaliatory missile strikes on Iraqi bases hosting U.S. forces dealt a crushing blow to the United States and its image in the region.
Dialing up the rhetoric, deputy foreign minister Abbas Araqchi said Sunday that the U.S. had been “unable to respond” after the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) had fired more than a dozen surface-to-surface short-range ballistic missiles.
State-funded Press TV quoted him as saying “Iran’s strong blow … made a change in the strategic equations in the region and power arrangement between Iran and the U.S.”
The result, he said, was a new “strategic balance” between the U.S. and Iran.
Two days earlier, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei used similarly hyperbolic language in connection with the January 8 missile strike targeting the Ain al-Asad base in Iraq’s western Anbar province and a base near Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan..
“The day the missiles of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps crushed the U.S. base is one of the days of Allah,” he said while leading Friday prayers in Tehran. “The Guards’ response was a major blow to America’s fearsome superpower image.”
“The dignity and awe of the tyrannical, arrogant U.S. government” has been destroyed, he said.
In a similar vein, an article Sunday in Kayhan, a hardline publication whose editor is appointed by Khamenei, said the missile strike against the “technologically advanced” Ain al-Asad base had “shattered the myth of U.S. invincibility.”
After the strike, which came in response to the killing of Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani in a U.S. airstrike in Baghdad, IRGC officials claimed there had been significant loss of life.
“Tens of U.S. troops have likely been killed and wounded and were transferred to Israel and Jordan on nine sorties of C-130 flights,” IRGC Aerospace Division commander Brig. Gen. Ali Hajizadeh told media at the time.
“According to the accurate reports of our sources in the field, at least 80 American troops were killed and some 200 others were wounded, who were immediately transferred out of the airbase by helicopters,” the IRIB state broadcaster quoted an “informed” IRGC source as saying.
Tehran Times quoted an unnamed “media expert” as complaining that Western media outlets were trying to “minimize the magnitude of Iran’s action.”
President Trump, however, said the day after the missile barrage that it had caused no U.S. or Iraqi fatalities.
As a result, he chose not to escalate the already tense situation by further retaliation, saying Iran appeared to be “standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world.”
Trump also said the U.S. had “suffered no casualties,” although U.S. Central Command confirmed on Friday that “several” U.S. personnel had been treated for symptoms of concussion.
“Out of an abundance of caution,” said spokesman Capt. Bill Urban, eight personnel had been transported to the Landstuhl regional medical center in Germany, and three to Camp Arifjan in neighboring Kuwait, “for follow-on screening.”
Chief Pentagon spokesperson Alyssa Farah said the Pentagon leadership had only been notified of the referrals on Thursday, “and made it public within hours.”
At the same briefing, Jonathan Rath Hoffman, assistant to the secretary of defense for public affairs, said the term “casualties” is usually used in cases where personnel are unable to return to duty.
“Our understanding is that these individuals were able to return to duty following the attacks,” he said. In some cases, concussion symptoms emerged later, and in others, concussion symptoms that did appear shortly after the attack did not diminish, hence the decision to send those affected for further examination.
Hoffman pushed back at any suggestion of a politically-motivated cover-up.
He said the vice president, the secretary of defense and chairman of the Joint Chiefs Of Staff had all said on the record that the Iranian regime’s intention had been “to injure or kill Americans.”
“So this idea that there was an effort to de-emphasize injuries for some sort of amorphous political agenda doesn’t hold water.”