Iran launched a missile attack on U.S.-led forces in Iraq in the early hours of Wednesday, hours after the funeral of an Iranian commander whose killing in a U.S. drone strike has raised fears of a wider war in the Middle East. Will Trump dare to retaliate against an Iranian Missile attack?
The U.S. military said on Tuesday that Tehran fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles from Iranian territory against at least two Iraqi military bases hosting U.S.-led coalition personnel.
IRAN FIRES MISSILES DIRECTLY FROM ITS TERRITORIES
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards confirmed that they fired the rockets in retaliation for last week’s killing of Qassem Soleimani.
“We are working on initial battle damage assessments,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement, adding that the bases targeted were al-Asad air base and another in Erbil, Iraq.
U.S. President Donald Trump has been briefed on reports of the attack. He was monitoring the situation, White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said.
Grisham said in a statement:
We are aware of the reports of attacks on U.S. facilities in Iraq. The president has been briefed and is monitoring the situation closely and consulting with his national security team.
Earlier on Tuesday, U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the United States should anticipate retaliation from Iran over the killing in Iraq of Soleimani, commander of the elite Quds Force.
Esper told a news briefing at the Pentagon:
I think we should expect that they will retaliate in some way, shape or form.
He added that such retaliation could be through Iran-backed proxy groups outside of Iran or “by their own hand.”
We’re prepared for any contingency. And then we will respond appropriately to whatever they do.
Stock markets in Asia fell sharply on news of the rocket attack. Investor safe havens including the Japanese yen and gold shot higher.
Soleimani, a violent figure in orchestrating Iran’s long-standing terror campaigns against Arab countries, was also responsible for building up Tehran’s network of proxy armies across the Middle East that carried out the violence. Many received news of his demise with elation and comfort.
WILL TRUMP DARE TO RETALIATE?
A senior Iranian official said on Tuesday that Tehran was considering several scenarios to avenge Soleimani’s death. Other senior figures have said the Islamic Republic would match the scale of the killing when it responds.
The head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, General Hossein Salami, told the throngs in Kerman, Soleimani’s hometown in southeastern Iran:
We will take revenge, a hard and definitive revenge.
Soleimani’s burial went ahead after several hours of delay following a stampede that killed at least 56 people. The stampede also injured more than 210.
“While thousands showed for the funeral, millions of Iranian who hated Soleimani and what he stood for stayed home.”
The Iranian regime displayed Soleimani’s body at the holy Shi’ite Muslim cities in Iraq and Iran. The body also visited Tehran, before arriving for burial in the city cemetery’s “martyrs section”.
In each place, huge numbers of people filled thoroughfares, chanting: “Death to America” and weeping with emotion. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei wept as he led prayers in Tehran. While thousands showed for the funeral, millions of Iranian who hated Soleimani and what he stood for stayed home.
More than 5,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq as part of a coalition that has trained and backed up Iraqi security forces against the threat of Islamic State militants. Without U.S. help, IS might be ruling Iraq today.
U.S. officials have said Soleimani was killed because of solid intelligence indicating forces under his command planned attacks on U.S. targets in the region.
Reuters contributed to this article.