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Iran launches missile attacks on two US bases in Iraq and claims 80 dead

Iran launches missile attacks on two US bases in Iraq and claims 80 dead

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Iran has launched a series of missile attacks on US facilities in Iraq, days after the United States assassinated top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani.

Iranian state television said in the early hours of Wednesday that the Revolutionary Guards Corps had attacked Ain al-Asad military base, where US troops are stationed. A second facility near Erbil airport was also hit.  

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Iran had taken and concluded “proportionate measures in self-defence” under Article 51 of the UN Charter.

“We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression,” he said on Twitter.

The air raids come less than a week after the US attack on Soleimani, who was killed near Baghdad’s international airport, alongside Iraqi paramilitary commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and several others. Soleimani, the head of the elite Quds Force, was buried early on Wednesday morning in the southeastern city of Kerman.

In a statement soon after the launch of the missile launches, Iran warned US allies in the region including Israel that they too would be attacked if they allowed their countries to be used for attacking Iran. 

Iranian television reported a senior official in the Iranian supreme leader’s office said the missile attacks were the “weakest” of several retaliation scenarios.

In Washington, US President Donald Trump said in a tweet late on Tuesday that an assessment of casualties and damage from the strikes was under way.

“All is well!” Trump said in the Twitter post, adding that he would make a statement on Wednesday morning.

The Pentagon meanwhile confirmed more than a dozen rockets had been launched against US military and coalition forces in Iraq and that the missiles had come from Iran.

There were no immediate reports of casualties.

“We are working on initial battle damage assessments,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement. “We will all take all necessary measures to protect and defend US personnel, partners and allies in the region.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper arrived at the White House late on Tuesday, and an official said President Donald Trump had been briefed on the attacks and was monitoring the situation closely.

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