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Iran: Our Missile Strikes 'a Slap in the Face' to the US

But no reports of US or coalition casualties so far, though Tehran claims dozens
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 8, 2020 5:20 AM CST
Updated Jan 8, 2020 6:56 AM CST
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Security forces try to open streets while protesters set fire during a demonstration to protest against the Iranian missile strike, in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020.   (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)
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(Newser) – The US military says it is still assessing casualties from Iranian missile strikes on two bases in Iraq that house US and coalition troops—but Tehran claims the impact was devastating. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on Wednesday called the barrage of missiles in retaliation for the killing of Gen. Qasem Soleimani a "slap in the face" for the US, the Washington Post reports. Iran's Revolutionary Guards claimed 15 missiles hit their targets, killing or injuring 80 Americans and destroying large amounts of military equipment, including planes and helicopters. More:

  • No reports of casualties. Sources say 10 missiles hit the Ain al-Asad air base around 40 miles west of Baghdad, which is used by US and coalition troops, but there were no reports of casualties, the AP reports. A spokesman for the Norwegian Armed Forces, which has 70 troops at the base, says none of the country's personnel were harmed. Iraq, the UK, Canada, and Australia have also said none of their personnel were killed or injured. At least one missile hit the Irbil air base in northern Iraq.

  • Iran says it was self-defense. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Iran was defending itself, not seeking war, the BBC reports. "The country took and "concluded proportionate measures in self-defense under Article 51 of UN Charter targeting base from which cowardly armed attack against our citizens & senior officials were launched," he tweeted. "We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression.
  • Reaction from Congress. Unlike with the strike that killed Soleimani, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders were notified of the strikes immediately, the New York Times reports. Pelosi and her colleagues condemned the escalation of violence between Iran and the US, while Republican lawmakers including Rep. Michael Waltz said the president should "impose consequences" on Iran.
  • Iraq received warning. The Iraqi prime minister's office says it received a warning from Tehran around midnight, 90 minutes before the strikes began, that the "response to the assassination of the martyr Qasem Soleimani had begun or would start shortly," the Guardian reports. Adel Abdul Mahdi's office says it was also informed by the Americans that missile strikes were taking place.
  • Response likely to depend on casualties. Analysts say the level of the US response is likely to depend on whether Americans are killed or injured. "I believe the White House will look at the level of damage and especially the US casualties," says ABC contributor Mick Mulroy. "If there are no casualties, this may be it. If there are casualties, or if intel indicates another wave is coming, they may act preemptively to reduce or eliminate the ballistic missile threat." The Revolutionary Guards warned that "any new invasions and aggression will result in more painful and pounding responses."
  • A chance to de-escalate? "Wednesday’s strikes might be an opportunity for both sides to de-escalate without losing face," as long as President Trump's assessment that "all is well" at the bases turns out to be true, writes Michael Safi at the Guardian. "Iran will be able to say it took violent revenge for Suleimani's death and pivot to a campaign of proxy warfare," he writes, and the US "can also step back, shrugging off the retaliation as being of no significant consequence."
  • Trump to make statement. Trump says he will make a statement Wednesday morning, NPR reports. His initial tweet after the attack did not mention retaliation, though he has previously said "if Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran."
(Read more Iran stories.)

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