Iran says it has launched “tens” of surface-to-surface missiles at Iraq’s Ain Assad air base housing U.S. troops over America’s killing of a top Iranian general.
State TV described it early Wednesday as Tehran’s revenge operation over the killing of Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard then warned the U.S. and its regional allies against retaliating over the missile attack in Iraq. The Guard issued the warning via a statement carried by Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency.
“We are warning all American allies, who gave their bases to its terrorist army, that any territory that is the starting point of aggressive acts against Iran will be targeted,” The Guard said. It also threatened Israel.
A U.S. official confirmed to ABC News that ballistic missiles were fired from inside Iran at multiple military facilities inside Iraq. The facilities included Al Asad air base in western Iraq as well as Erbil in northern Iraq, the official said. There was no immediate information on casualties.
White House spokesperson Stephanie Grisham released a statement, saying, “We are aware of the reports of attacks on US facilities in Iraq. The President has been briefed and is monitoring the situation closely and consulting with his national security team.”
Ain Assad air base is in Iraq’s western Anbar province. It was first used by American forces after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein. It later saw American troops stationed there amid the fight against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.
State TV said the operation’s name was “Martyr Soleimani.” It said the Guard’s aerospace division that controls Iran’s missile program launched the attack. Iran said it would release more information later.
Earlier Tuesday a stampede broke out at the funeral for a top Iranian general slain in a U.S. airstrike, and at least 56 people were killed and more than 200 were injured as thousands thronged the procession, Iranian news reports said.
The U.S. continued to reinforce its own positions in the region and warned of an unspecified threat to shipping from Iran in the region’s waterways, crucial routes for global energy supplies. U.S. embassies and consulates from Asia to Africa and Europe issued security alerts for Americans. The U.S. Air Force launched a drill with 52 fighter jets in Utah, just days after President Donald Trump threatened to hit 52 sites in Iran.
The funeral processions in major cities over three days have been an unprecedented honor for Soleimani, seen by Iranians as a national hero for his work leading the Guard’s expeditionary Quds Force.
The U.S. blames him for killing U.S. troops in Iraq and accused him of plotting new attacks just before he was killed. Soleimani also led forces supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad in that country’s civil war, and he also served as the point man for Iranian proxies in countries like Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen. Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Assad in Syria on Tuesday amid the tensions between Washington and Tehran.
Soleimani’s slaying already has led Tehran to abandon the remaining limits of its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers as his successor and others vow to take revenge.
In Iraq, pro-Iranian factions in parliament have pushed to oust American troops from Iraqi soil following Soleimani’s killing. Germany and Canada announced plans to move some of their soldiers in Iraq to neighboring countries.
According to a report on Tuesday by the semi-official Tasnim news agency, Iran has worked up 13 sets of plans to avenge Soleimani’s death. The report quoted Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, as saying that even the weakest among them would be a “historic nightmare” for the U.S. He declined to elaborate,
“If the U.S. troops do not leave our region voluntarily and upright, we will do something to carry their bodies horizontally out,” Shamkhani said.
The state-run IRNA news agency later published a statement from the Supreme National Security Council denying Shamkhani made the comment.