January 08, 2020

Iran fires 22 missiles at US targets in Iraq in retaliation for killing of Qassim Soleimani
Iran has vowed to expel US forces from the region after it launched a wave of missile strikes on two bases in Iraq hosting American forces.  In the early hours of Wednesday morning, Iran fired 22 missiles into neighbouring Iraq, targeting a US base near Erbil as well as the Ain al-Assad base in Anbar province.  US and Iraqi officials both say the barrage of missiles did not cause any casualties, though terrified Iraqis posted footage online of the rockets exploding nearby. At least one missile missed altogether, landing harmlessly near its target.  US media reports suggest that its troops were hiding in bunkers before the missiles landed, following a warning from a missile detection system.  Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has made clear that Iran's ballistic missile strikes were in revenge for the US killing of Revolutionary Guard General Qassim Soleimani.  The lying, rambling US govt – whose words are worthless – tried to introduce this great Mujahid & Commander in the fight against terrorism as a terrorist. The Iranian nation slapped them in the face with their turn out in the millions for the funeral of General Soleimani.— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) January 8, 2020 Iranian propaganda outlets claim that "80 soldiers" from US forces have been killed, but there is no evidence to support this. Iranian's social media channels also tweeted dramatic pictures of explosions that turned out to be old photographs of an unrelated missile strike.  Soleimani's death last week in an American drone strike in Baghdad prompted angry calls to avenge his slaying and drew crowds of Iranians, said to number in the millions, to the streets to mourn him. Iraqi security forces find and collect the pieces of missiles as they gather to inspect the site after Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) targeted Ain al-Asad airbase in Iraq Credit: Andalou "Last night they received a slap," Khamenei said in a speech after the missile strikes. "These military actions are not sufficient (for revenge). What is important is that the corrupt presence of America in this region comes to an end." Despite the heightened rhetoric, there were some indications that there would not be more immediate retaliation on either side. 'All is well!' President Donald Trump tweeted shortly after the missile attacks, adding, 'So far, so good' regarding casualties. General Soleimani fought heroically against ISIS, Al Nusrah, Al Qaeda et al. If it weren’t for his war on terror, European capitals would be in great danger now. Our final answer to his assassination will be to kick all US forces out of the region.— Hassan Rouhani (@HassanRouhani) January 8, 2020 Moments earlier, Iran's foreign minister tweeted that Tehran had taken "& concluded proportionate measures in self-defense," adding that Tehran did "not seek escalation" but would defend itself against further aggression. Tensions have been rising steadily in the Middle East after Trump's decision to unilaterally withdraw America from Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers. The killing of Soleimani and the strikes on the Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops marked the first time in recent years that Washington and Tehran have attacked each other directly rather than through proxies in the region. It raised the chances of open conflict erupting between the two rivals, who have been at odds since Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution and the subsequent U.S. Embassy takeover and hostage crisis. Ain al-Asad air base was first used by American forces after the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein, and later saw American troops stationed there amid the fight against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. It houses about 1,500 U.S. and coalition forces.
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