Iran fires missiles at U.S. air base to avenge Soleimani assassination

January 8, 2020 - 21:57

TEHRAN – Early on Wednesday, on the dead of the night, the Aerospace Force of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) fired ballistic missiles at the U.S. Ain al-Assad airbase in southwestern Iraq in retaliation for the assassination of IRGC Quds Force Commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani.

The missiles were launched at 1:45am to 2:15am at dawn, January 8, 2020.

Ain Al-Assad, an airbase in al Anbar province, is the main and the largest U.S. airbase in Iraq.

This is the first direct attack on the U.S. army since the Second World War.

IRGC officials said none of the missiles had been intercepted.

The missile attack operation was named after “Martyr Soleimani”.

General Soleimani was assassinated in a U.S. air raid near the Baghdad international airport on Friday morning. It was an act of war against Iran.

Soleimani had gone to Baghdad to deliver a message to the Iraqi prime minister who is seeking to reduce tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

The U.S. airstrike also martyred Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (PMU) and some other forces of the PMU along with their guests.

Top Iranian political and military figures had vowed “harsh revenge” for the martyrdom of General Soleimani.

A few hours after Iran fired dozens of ballistic missiles at the U.S. military base, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that the United States’ “corruptive presence” in the region must come to an end.

“A slap was delivered last night,” the Leader remarked.

In the meantime, President Rouhani praised the missile attacks on the U.S. military base, saying, “They cut Soleimani’s hand from his body and everybody watched it adjacent to his body in photos. The revenge for the act is cutting the Americans’ feet from the region.”

Military chief says there will be ‘harsher response in case of further mischief’

Meanwhile, Armed Forces Chief of Staff Major General Mohammad Bagheri warned that the U.S. will face a “harsher response” if it conducts any “further mischief”.

“It is time that the wicked U.S. leaders understand the capabilities of the Islamic Republic and adopt a wise policy and pull their troops out of the region as soon as possible,” Bagheri stated.

 Zarif: Iran’s response is in accordance to UN Charter

Also, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said his country's missile attacks on Ain Al-Assad falls under the rules of the UN Charter, reminding that Iran has hit the airbase that has been used as the launchpad for assassinating General Soleimani.

"Iran took and concluded proportionate measures in self-defense under Article 51 of UN Charter targeting [the] base from which cowardly armed attack against our citizens and senior officials were launched," Zarif wrote on his tweeter page on Wednesday morning.

Zarif says Iran informed Iraq of missile attack on U.S. base

Zarif also said Iran informed the Iraqi government of its retaliatory attack on the U.S. base, reaffirming Tehran’s respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Arab country.
“We attach high significance to Iraq’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, and we believe security should be [provided] based on mutual respect and [safeguarding] territorial integrity of all regional countries by all,” he added.

In relevant remarks, Ali Motahari, a senior lawmaker, said, “The main response will certainly be a complete expulsion of the U.S. forces from the Middle East and liberation of the occupied Palestine.”

The Iranian first vice president also announced on his official Twitter account that the IRGC Airspace Force’s missile attacks on the airbase was a “crushing” and also a “deterrent” one.

Es’haq Jahangir attached Iran’s flag to his Twitter and wrote: “The first slap was strong, crushing and of course warning and deterrent.”

Iran’s television said over 80 U.S. forces have been reportedly killed in the missile strikes, citing a source close to the IRGC.

The missile attacks were confirmed by the Pentagon.

The IRGC added that it would release more details about the strike.

The strike comes as no surprise since Iran had vowed to take a “harsh revenge”.

Sirens were reportedly heard and American helicopters flew over the airbase and the total alert was activated.

U.S. President Donald Trump was being briefed about the retaliatory strikes.

"We are aware of the reports of attacks on U.S. facilities in Iraq. The President has been briefed and is monitoring the situation closely and consulting with his national security team," White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.

The Pentagon said that it would take necessary measures to protect the U.S. military forces amid heightened tensions in the region.

"We are working on initial battle damage assessments," Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement.

"At approximately 5.30 pm (2230 GMT) on January 7, Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles against U.S. military and coalition forces in Iraq," Assistant to the U.S. Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement.

Iraq’s anti-terror Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), better known as Hashd al-Sha'abi, announced the start of Crushing Response Operation to the United States.

The White House was preparing for an address to the U.S. nation by Trump, the commander in chief, but it was announced later that the speech has been called off.

IRGC: Any land used for anti-Iran attack will be targeted

In a statement, the IRGC issued a warning to regional countries that house U.S. bases, saying,
“Any land that becomes the source of aggressive and hostile measures against the Islamic Republic will be targeted.”

The statement also warned the United States that any more aggression or movement will receive more “painful and crushing” response.

MJ/PA

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