(CNSNews.com) – Iranian regime forces on Tuesday fired “more than a dozen” ballistic missiles at two military bases in Iraq housing U.S. and coalition forces, the Department of Defense has confirmed. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
“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-Asad and Irbil,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement.
“We are working on initial battle damage assessments.”
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said in a statement it had fired “tens of surface-to-surface ballistic missiles” towards the Al-Asad base. It made no mention of the base at Irbil (Erbil) in Iraqi Kurdistan.
The IRGC said the operation, a warning to “the Great Satan,” was carried out in the name of Qassem Soleimani, the IRGC-Qods Force commander killed in a U.S. airstrike in Baghdad last week.
“All is well!” President Trump tweeted at 7:45 PM. “Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq. Assessment of casualties & 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.”
Hoffman said the attack occurred at around 5:30 PM EST, or 1:30 AM Wednesday in Iraq.
“In recent days and in response to Iranian threats and actions, the Department of Defense has taken all appropriate measures to safeguard our personnel and partners,” he said. “These bases have been on high alert due to indications that the Iranian regime planned to attack our forces and interests in the region.”
“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.”
The killing of Soleimani has seen regional tensions soar, and Iranian regime officials from supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei down have been threatening retaliation.
Iran’s Tasnim news agency quoted the IRGC as saying in its statement, “We warn the Great Satan, the bloodthirsty and arrogant regime of the U.S., that any new wicked act or more moves and aggressions will bring about more painful and crushing responses.”
“The brave soldiers of the IRGC Aerospace Force in a successful operation in the name of martyr Gen. Qassem Soleimani … launched tens of surface-to-surface ballistic missiles” targeting the “terrorist and aggressive U.S. army” at the al-Asad base, it said.
“We are warning all U.S. allies who gave their bases to its terrorist army that any territory that in any way becomes the starting point of hostile and aggressive acts against the Islamic Republic of Iran will be targeted.”
“We in no way consider the Zionist regime to be separated from the criminal U.S. regime in these crimes,” it added.
The IRGC also urged the American people to demand the withdrawal of U.S. forces from the region, “to prevent further casualties.”
Tasnim posted with the IRGC statement a dramatic photo showing at least five missiles being launched. The same photo has been used in previous reports, however, dating back at least five years.
In mid-2017, Iran fired ballistic missiles at what it called terrorist targets inside Syria. They including the Zolfaqar, a new surface-to-surface missile which the regime claimed could destroy targets around 450 miles away “with a zero margin of error.”
Al-Asad airbase lies less than 200 miles away from the nearest Iranian territory. Irbil is located about 70 miles from the Iranian border.
'To watch over Iran'
Al-Asad in Anbar province is the base which President Trump visited at Christmas 2018, when he spoke of keeping U.S. troops in Iraq to “watch very closely over any potential re-formation of ISIS – and also to watch over Iran.”
Two months after that visit, Trump in an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation” recalled visiting the base, describing it as “a fantastic edifice.”
“I couldn’t believe the money that was spent on these massive runways,” Trump said. “I’ve rarely seen anything like it. And it’s there. And we’ll be there.”
One of the reasons he wanted to keep the base, he said, “is because I want to be looking a little bit at Iran, because Iran is a real problem,” he said.
“You’re keeping troops in Iraq because you want to be able to strike in Iran?” host Margaret Brennan asked.
“No, because I want to be able to watch Iran,” Trump replied. “All I want to do is be able to watch. We have an unbelievable and expensive military base built in Iraq. It's perfectly situated for looking at all over different parts of the troubled Middle East, rather than pulling up.”