JERUSALEM, Israel – After days of speculation of how Iran would retaliate for the killing of General Qassam Soleimani, on Wednesday night the Islamic regime fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two US bases inside Iraq. Many are now looking to Washington's response and wondering if this is the end of the US-Iran confrontation or the prelude to an escalation.
Iran called the missile attack “Operation Martyr Soleimani” and fired the surface-to-surface missiles at two US military bases, one near Erbil in northern Iraq and the other in Iraq’s Anbar Province at the Ain al-Assad airbase.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addressed his nation and called the attack a slap in the face to the US, while Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif called it an act of self-defense.
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.
We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) January 8, 2020
President Donald Trump had recently visited the al-Asad base.
After the attacks, Trump tweeted, “All is well! Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq. Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good!”
Vice President Mike Pence briefed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and after she tweeted, “We must ensure the safety of our [service members], including ending needless provocations from the administration and demanding that Iran cease its violence. America [and the] world cannot afford war.”
On Capitol Hill, the House will vote on a war powers resolution and at the White House, President Trump plans to speak about the attacks. On Tuesday he said it wouldn’t be good for the US to leave Iraq.
“Well, I think it's the worst thing that can happen to Iraq. If we leave that would mean that Iran would have a much bigger foothold and the people of Iraq do not want to see Iran running the company that, the country, that I can tell you. So, we'll see how it all works out," he said.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defended the decision to kill Soleimani.
"We could clearly see were continuing efforts on behalf of this terrorist to build out a network of campaign activities that were going to lead potentially to the death of many more Americans. It's the right decision. We got it right," Pompeo explained.
Some Middle East observers believe the night attacks appear designed to allow Iran to show a military response but avoid American casualties and further escalate the situation.