Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said it had fired “tens of rockets” at Iraq’s Ain Assad base, which host American troops, in retaliation for the US killing of Qassem Soleimani.
The attack would mark the first Iranian response since the top Iranian commander was assassinated by US air strikes in Baghdad on Friday and would be a significant escalation in the confrontation between Washington and Tehran. The attack has not been independently confirmed.
The White House said: “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.”
The Revolutionary Guards said in a statement that the operation was named Martyr Soleimani and warned the “the great Satan and arrogant US that any aggressive act will be responded to with more painful and more crushing retaliation”.
Brigadier General Esmail Ghaani, Soleimani’s successor as head of the Quds force, the wing of the guards responsible for overseas operations, told state television on Monday that the Islamic regime take revenge for the commanders killing by “uprooting the US from the region”.
Iraq, which hosts about 5,000 US troops and myriad Iranian-backed Iraqi militias, was considered the likely flashpoint for a confrontation between Tehran and Washington.
The US is estimated to have more than 50,000 troops in the Middle East in bases across the region, including Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.
The guards statement on Wednesday warned that the US allies that have provided “bases to this terrorist army, and any land which in anyway is used as the origin of hostile acts against the Islamic republic will be targeted too”.
“We do not consider the Zionist regime [Israel] from the US in such crimes. We recommend that American people to call for the withdrawal from American soldiers and not to let increasing hatred to cost more lives of their soldiers,” the statement added.
President Donald Trump, who said he ordered the strike against Soleimani because he was planning attacks against American targets, this week vowed to respond to any Iranian retaliation.