Threat to US as Iran targets there troops with ballistic missiles

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Iran has carried out a ballistic missile attack on air bases housing US forces in Iraq, in retaliation for the US killing of General Qasem Soleimani.

More than a dozen missiles launched from Iran struck two air bases in Irbil and Al Asad, west of Baghdad.

It is unclear if there have been any casualties.

The initial response from Washington has been muted. President Trump tweeted that all was well and said casualties and damage were being assessed.

Two Iraqi bases housing US and coalition troops were targeted, one at Al Asad and one in Irbil, at about 02:00 local time on Wednesday (22.30 GMT on Tuesday). It came just hours after the burial of Soleimani, who controlled Iran’s proxy forces across the Middle East.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said the attack was “a slap in the face” for the US and called for and end to the US presence in the region.

Echoing him, President Hassan Rouhani said the US would have its “feet cut off” in the Middle East.

Hours after the air strikes a Ukrainian airliner crashed in Iran shortly after take-off. Ukraine’s Tehran embassy initially blamed engine failure but later removed the statement.

Several airlines have suspended flights to Iran and Iraq amid the rising tension.

Is this the end of the escalation?

This is the most direct assault by Iran on the US since the seizing of the US embassy in Tehran in 1979.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said the attack was in retaliation for the death of Soleimani on Friday – killed in a missile strike outside Baghdad airport on the orders of President Trump – and warned US allies that their bases could also be targeted.

Iran’s Defence Minister Amir Hatami said Iran’s response to any US retaliation would be proportional to the US action.

But Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the attack was self-defence and denied seeking to escalate the situation into war.

By Kayongo Brian Timothy

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