Iran rocket attacks, US troops targeted with ballistic missiles.
Iran has carried out a ballistic missile attack on air bases housing US forces in Iraq, in retaliation for the US killing of General Qasem Soleimani.
More than a dozen missiles launched from Iran struck two air bases in Irbil and Al Asad, west of Baghdad.
It is unclear if there have been any casualties.
The initial response from Washington has been muted. President Trump tweeted that all was well and said casualties and damage were being assessed.
Two Iraqi bases housing US and coalition troops were targeted, one at Al Asad and one in Irbil, at about 02:00 local time on Wednesday (22:30 GMT on Tuesday). It came just hours after the burial of Soleimani, who controlled Iran’s proxy forces across the Middle East.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said the attack was “a slap in the face” for the US and called for an end to the US presence in the region.
Echoing him, President Hassan Rouhani said the US would have its “feet cut off” in the Middle East.
Iraq’s Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said Iran warned him just after midnight local time that an attack was imminent and only areas with US troops would be targeted. There were no reports of Iraqi casualties, he said.
Just hours after the missile strikes a Ukrainian airliner crashed in Iran shortly after take-off. There is no evidence that the two incidents are linked.
Several airlines have suspended flights to Iran and Iraq amid the rising tension.
Is this the end of the escalation?
This is the most direct assault by Iran on the US since the seizing of the US embassy in Tehran in 1979.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said the attack was in retaliation for the death of Soleimani on Friday – killed in a missile strike outside Baghdad airport on the orders of President Trump – and warned US allies that their bases could also be targeted.
Iran’s Defence Minister Amir Hatami said Iran’s response to any US retaliation would be proportional to the US action.
But Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the attack was self-defence and denied seeking to escalate the situation into war.
Given the significance of General Soleimani and the passions that his killing aroused – Iran’s military strike against US bases in Iraq was a modest response.
The attack was clearly timed to cause as few casualties as possible. Both the US and Iran – for all their rhetoric – do not want a wider conflict. So maybe a line can be drawn under this matter for now.
Is this the end of Iran’s retaliation? Time will tell.
But it is hard to see Iranian policy changing. It is presumably still going to try to secure its regional goals, not least the departure of US forces from Iraq.
The Soleimani killing has weakened the US position there. But it was rocket attacks from Iran’s proxies – local Shia militia – against US bases that formed the prelude to this recent crisis.
Has the US established any measure of deterrence? And if not, will Iranian-inspired attacks resume in due course?