Iran has retaliated for the killing of a top Iranian general by firing more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two Iraqi air bases housing U.S. forces on Wednesday local time.
Defense Department said there was no question about the source of the missiles, and the Iranian government quickly claimed responsibility, NBC News reports
“It is clear that these missiles were launched from Iran and targeted at least two Iraqi military bases hosting U.S. military and coalition personnel,” the Pentagon said in a statement.
It was unclear whether there was any damage to Ain al-Asad air base, which President Donald Trump visited in 2018, or whether there were any deaths or injuries.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif said the country did not “seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression.”
“Iran took & 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,” Zarif said in a tweet, referring to the killing of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
The attack comes just days after Trump ordered an airstrike that killed Soleimani, the high-profile commander of Iran’s secretive Quds Force.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani vowed Friday that the country “will take revenge” for the general’s death.
Soleimani was one of the most influential figures in the Middle East, having developed a network of powerful militia groups whose clandestine reach stretched into Iraq, Syria and beyond.
The attacks are the latest development in the United States’ rapidly deteriorating relations with Iran. Tensions began simmering again after Trump unilaterally withdrew from a nuclear deal between Iran and several world powers in May 2018.
European allies have tried to salvage the deal, which restricted nuclear development in exchange for the easing of crippling economic sanctions. The agreement limited Tehran’s uranium enrichment and the amount of enriched uranium it could stockpile, as well as its nuclear research and development.
Iran announced Sunday that it would no longer abide by the agreement and that recent events meant Iran would take an even bigger step away from the deal than it had initially planned, with no further limits on uranium enrichment.
Zarif said there “will no longer be any restriction on number of centrifuges.”
Trump’s decision to target Soleimani was met with mixed reactions, as some feared that the general’s death would lead to another war in the Middle East.
Trump warned Saturday that the United States had 52 potential targets “very important to Iran & the Iranian culture” if Iran planned a retaliatory attack. The figure symbolizes the number of hostages held by Iran in 1979, when 52 U.S. diplomats and citizens were seized and held for 444 days.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., tweeted on Tuesday that the United States and the world “cannot afford war.”
“Closely monitoring the situation following bombings targeting U.S. troops in Iraq. We must ensure the safety of our service members, including ending needless provocations from the Administration and demanding that Iran cease its violence. America & world cannot afford war,” she said.