“We’re receiving some encouraging intelligence that Iran is sending messages to those very same militias not to move against American targets or civilians, and we hope that that message continues to echo,” says US Vice President Mike Pence.
Wednesday, January 8
Iran sending messages to militias not to attack US targets –– Pence
US Vice President Mike Pence said on Wednesday the United States has received intelligence that Iran has asked its allied militias not to attack US targets.
“We’re receiving some encouraging intelligence that Iran is sending messages to those very same militias not to move against American targets or civilians, and we hope that that message continues to echo,” Pence told CBS News in an interview.
Pentagon: US has restored ‘level of deterrence’ on Iran
US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Wednesday that the United States has reestablished some deterrence toward Iran in the wake of the January 3 drone strike that killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad.
“I think at this point with the strikes we took against KH (Kataib Hezbollah) in late December and then our actions with regard to Soleimani, I believe that we’ve restored a level of deterrence with them,” he told reporters.
“But we will see. Time will tell,” Esper said.
Iran ‘appears to be standing down’ –– Trump
US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday Iran appeared to be “standing down” after missile strikes on US troop bases in Iraq that he said resulted in no American or Iraqi deaths.
“All of our soldiers are safe and only minimal damage was sustained at our military bases. Our great American forces are prepared for anything,” he said in an address to the nation from the White House.
“Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world. No American or Iraqi lives were lost.”
Trump announced the United States would be imposing “additional punishing sanctions” on Iran but made no mention of possible retaliation to Tuesday’s missile attacks –– seen by experts as a measured first response by Iran to the killing of General Qasem Soleimani in an American drone strike.
Iranian state television had said 80 “American terrorists” had been killed and US helicopters and military equipment had been damaged.
‘We don’t retreat in face of America’
President Hassan Rouhani said Iran’s response to a US strike that killed one of its general shows “we don’t retreat in the face of America.”
“If America has committed a crime … it should know that it will receive a decisive response,” Rouhani said in a televised address, hours after Iran fired missiles at Iraqi bases housing US troops.
“If they are wise, they won’t take any other action at this juncture.”
Slovenia will evacuate soldiers based in Iraq
Slovenia’s Defence Ministry said its six soldiers stationed in northern Iraq with a German-led training mission will be evacuated after their base came under Iran’s missile attack in retaliation for the US killing of Iran’s top general Qasem Soleimani.
Syrian regime supports Iran on missile strike against US
The Syrian regime is expressing full solidarity with Iran, saying Tehran has the right to defend itself “in the face of American threats and attacks.”
The Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday that Syria holds the “American regime responsible for all the repercussions due to its reckless policy and arrogant mentality.”
Italy urges dialogue
Italy has some 900 troops in Iraq, based in Baghdad and Erbil, that are involved in training Iraqi troops and in fighting Daesh terror group.
After a US drone strike killed Iran’s top general last week, Italian news reports said Italy had transferred some troops from a Baghdad base to a more secure location.
Italy’s Foreign Ministry again urged European allies to work for dialogue, according to a statement.
Iraq president fears dangerous developments
Iraq’s President Barham Saleh condemned Iran’s missile strikes on Iraqi bases where US and other foreign troops are based, saying he feared “dangerous developments” in the region.
“We denounce the Iranian missile bombing that hit military installations on Iraqi territory and renew our rejection of the repeated violation of state sovereignty and the transformation of Iraq into a battlefield for warring sides,” his office said in a statement.
Iraq speaker condemns ‘Iranian violation of Iraqi sovereignty’
The speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, Mohammed al Halbusi, condemned Iran’s missile strikes as a “violation of Iraqi sovereignty.”
Halbusi, the most senior Sunni Arab in Iraq’s confessional power-sharing system, called for urgent measures to stop Iraq being turned into a proxy battlefield for outside powers, including Shia Iran.
UK PM Johnson condemns attack
“We, of course, condemn the attack on Iraqi military bases hosting coalition forces,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told parliament, speaking in public on the crisis for the first time.
“Iran should not repeat these reckless and dangerous attacks but must instead pursue urgent de-escalation.”
Johnson said “as far we can tell” there were no US casualties in the attack, and no British personnel were injured.
Asked by opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn what evidence he had to suggest the US drone strike on Soleimani was not illegal, Johnson said it was not up to Britain to determine the legality of the operation.
“Most reasonable people would accept that the United States has a right to protect its bases and its personnel,” Johnson said, adding that Soleimani had supplied improvised explosive devices which had been used against the British military.
“That man had the blood of British troops on his hands,” he added.
Iraq says both Iran, US notified it of attack
The Iraqi prime ministry says Iran notified Iraq shortly after midnight that its response to the killing of its top military commander had begun, and that retaliation would be limited to locations where the US military is present.
Adil Abdul Mahdi’s office said in a statement that Iraq was simultaneously informed by the Americans that military bases in Ain al Asad and Erbil were under missile attack.
The office says it has received no reports of casualties on the Iraqi side and has not been officially notified of any losses among the US-led coalition.
“Iraq refuses any violation of its sovereignty and any attacks on its territory,” the statement said.
It added that Iraq is doing everything in its power to contain the situation to avoid a “devastating all-out war.”
Poland says its ambassador to Iraq evacuated
Poland’s Foreign Ministry says its ambassador to Iraq, Beata Peksa, has been evacuated to Poland for security reasons.
The evacuation was at Britain’s request because Poland’s diplomatic mission is located in the British Embassy.
According to Poland’s Foreign Ministry only the ambassador was evacuated while its embassy in Baghdad continues its work.
Poland is one of several European countries that has said their troops in Iraq were not harmed in the Iranian missile strike overnight that targeted two military bases in Iraq housing US troops.
China state oil company evacuates some employees
Chinese media reports say state oil company China National Petroleum Corporation has evacuated about 20 employees from the West Qurna-1 oil field in Iraq as a result of the rising tensions between the US and Iran.
No details were given, and company spokespeople could not immediately be reached for comment.
US Embassy in Jordan issues security warning
The US Embassy in Jordan has issued a security warning to its government personnel to avoid “non-essential” movements.
In a tweet on Wednesday, the embassy says that “out of an abundance of caution” American children should also be kept home from school.
The embassy in Amman remains open.
Iraq anti-govt protesters rally against Iran strike
Anti-government protesters in Iraq have set fires and closed streets near Baghdad’s Tahrir Square during a demonstration against the Iranian missile strike that targeted two military bases in Iraq housing US troops.
About 100 protesters took part in Wednesday morning’s demonstration near Tahrir, the epicentre of Iraq’s protest movement.
Iran’s statement after strike
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps said, “Operation Martyr Soleimani” was in response to “the criminal and terrorist operation of the American invaders and to avenge the cowardly assassination and painful martyrdom of the heroic leader” of the elite Quds Force.
IRGC said it “fired dozens of ground-to-ground missiles at the invading air base of the terrorist army of the American aggressor … Ain al Assad, and crushed this base.”
Iranian Defence Minister Amir Hatami has also reacted to the strikes.
“We used short-range missiles … I hope this will be a memorable lesson for America,” Hatami said in reference to Wednesday’s Iranian strikes on US targets that followed last week’s killing of an Iranian commander in a US drone strike.
Iraqi Kurdish leaders call for region to be kept out of rivalries
The leaders of Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region said on Wednesday that the support of a US-led military coalition in fighting Daesh militants was vital and urged its member states not to allow the group’s revival.
The regional president, prime minister, and parliament speaker met on Wednesday and expressed concern at the escalation.
Netanyahu warns of ‘resounding blow’ if Iran attacks Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Israel would strike a “resounding blow” if attacked by arch-foe Iran, as regional tensions soar after US killing of a top Iranian general.
“Anyone who attacks us will receive a resounding blow,” the premier told a Jerusalem conference after Iran launched a salvo retaliatory missile strikes on bases used by US troops in Iraq.
Spain withdraws some troops from Iraq
Spain has pulled out some of its troops from Iraq due to security concerns, acting Deputy PrimeMinister Carmen Calvo said.
“Those who were in riskier positions have left for Kuwait,” Calvo told state broadcaster RTVE. “There is only a reduced number left there.”
The decision comes as NATO announced it would move some of its military training personnel out of Iraq amid fears of a regional conflagration.
‘Tehran had a right to respond after Soleimani’
An Iraqi political alliance backed by Iran said that Washington’s killing of Soleimani and Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al Muhandis gave Tehran the right to respond, the Iraqi state news agency said.
“The American aggression provided justification for the Iranian response,” the Fatih alliance representing mostly Iran-backed Shia militia leaders in parliament said, according to the agency. The alliance holds the second-largest number of seats in the assembly.
“Washington insists on making Iraq the battlefield for its conflict with Iran,” it said.
EU calls Iran rocket attacks ‘escalation,’ urges ceasefire
EU’s diplomatic chief condemned the attack, urging an end to the “spiral of violence”.
“The latest rocket attacks on air bases in Iraq used by US and coalition forces, among them European forces, are yet another example of escalation and increased confrontation,” Josep Borrell told reporters.
“The use of weapons must stop now to give space for dialogue,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told reporters after a meeting of her commissioners.
“We are called upon to do everything possible to rekindle talks. There cannot be enough of that. We have established and time-tested relations with many actors in the region and beyond to de-escalate the situation,” she said.
Missile attacks on US targets ‘legitimate self-defence’
Iran’s missile attacks on US targets in Iraq were “legitimate self-defence”, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told state TV, adding that Washington’s assessment to retaliate should not be based on “illusions”.
“Our action was a legitimate self-defence and the United States should avoid assessing it based on illusions,” Zarif said.
Finland had advance warning of strike – report
Finland’s defence forces say they received advance warning of the Iranian missile strike against bases in Iraq used by US troops.
The defence forces gave no details Wednesday, Finnish newspaper Ilta-Sanomat reported.
They added Finnish troops at the base in Erbil that was targeted were protected in a bomb shelter and were not hurt.
Commercial airlines reroute flights amid US-Iran tensions
A growing number of airlines said they were avoiding Iranian and Iraqi airspace or flights to the region after Tehran fired ballistic missiles against bases housing US troops in Iraq.
Leaders condemn Iran attacks
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab condemned the Iranian missile strikes and urged Iran to refrain from further military action.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters that Beijing has called for restraint by all sides and is in close consultation with the governments involved, including at the United Nations and through China’s embassy in Baghdad.
Germany’s defence minister called on Tehran to end a “spiral” of conflict.
“The German government strongly condemns this aggression… it is now primarily up to the Iranians to refrain from further escalation,” Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer told broadcaster ARD.
Rouhani threatens US presence in region – Fars news agency
Iran President Rouhani told the US that Washington might have “cut off the arm” of General Soleimani but America’s “leg” in the region would be cut off in response, Iran’s Fars news agency reported.
Rouhani made his comments after Iran launched missile strikes on US targets in Iraq.
‘Slap in face’ delivered to US – Khamenei
Iran’s supreme leader said a “slap in the face” was delivered to the US, when the Islamic republic fired missiles at US troop bases in Iraq.
“Last night, a slap in the face was delivered,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a speech broadcast live on state television.
His remarks came after he had vowed “severe revenge” for a US drone strike that killed one of Iran’s top military commanders near Baghdad international airport last week.
No Iraqi casualties in Iranian attack overnight – Iraq military
Iraq’s military said that 22 missiles were launched on the Ain al Asad airbase that houses US-led coalition troops in western Anbar province and a base in the Iraqi Kurdish capital Erbil, causing no casualties.
Two of the 17 missiles targeting Ain al Asad did not go off, it said in a statement. The five on Erbil all targeted coalition headquarters. There were no casualties among Iraqi forces, the military said.
“Iraq was subjected between 1:45 and 2:45 this morning of 8 January 2020 to bombardment by 22 missiles; 17 missiles fell on Ain al Asad airbase including two that did not explode … and five on the city of Erbil that all fell on coalition headquarters. No casualties among Iraqi forces were recorded,” the statement said.
One Iranian missile lands in field outside Erbil
At least one missile from the Iranian strike landed in a field near Bardarash, about 50 kilometres (31 miles) from Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s self-governing Kurdish region.
An Iraqi Kurdish channel, Rudaw TV, showed video of police inspecting the impact site and removing shrapnel.
No casualties were reported but residents said the earth shook upon impact, and one man was seen cleaning up slight damage to his house on a nearby street.
UK, Denmark, Norway say soldiers safe
Britain condemned Iran’s missile attacks on Iraqi bases housing coalition military, while confirming there were no British casualties from the strikes.
A Ministry of Defence statement said: “We can confirm that there were no UK casualties.”
No Danish or Norwegian soldiers were injured or killed in the missile strikes on Asad airbase in Iraq, the two countries said.
Denmark has about 130 soldiers at the base as part of the international coalition fighting Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
No Norwegian soldiers were injured or killed in Iran’s missile strike, a Norwegian military spokesman said early on Wednesday.
The Nordic country has about 70 soldiers at the base, Brynjar Stordal said at Norway’s military headquarters.
Trump says ‘all is well!’
“So far, so good,” US President Trump tweeted after the attack. Some experts speculated his use of no caps lock suggested few casualties.
“Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good! We have the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world, by far! I will be making a statement tomorrow morning,” his tweet read.
US reports few, if any, casualties in Iran strike
A US official says there were very few, if any, casualties from an Iranian missile attack on two Iraqi bases housing US troops.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity in advance of a Pentagon briefing.
The official says 15 missiles were fired. Ten struck the Ain al Asad airbase in Iraq’s western Anbar province. One struck a base in Erbil in Iraq’s KRG. Four missiles failed to hit their targets.
The official says the bases are still being searched for casualties.
FAA bans airlines from flying over Iraq
The US Federal Aviation Administration said it would ban US carriers from operating in the airspace over Iraq, Iran, the Gulf of Oman and the waters between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Intense military jet activity over Iraq capital
Military jets could be heard flying over the Iraqi capital, hours after Tehran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles at Iraqi bases where US troops are located.
AFP’s correspondents saw jets cutting through the clouds over Baghdad but could not immediately identify the planes.
Mike Pence briefs Congress on Iranian strikes
Vice President Mike Pence has briefed top Democrats in Congress on the Iranian strikes on installations in Iraq holding US forces.
Aides to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer both confirmed the lawmakers spoke with the vice president by telephone on Tuesday.
US confirms Iran missiles targeting Iraq sites
The Pentagon said it was still “working on initial battle damage assessments” after “Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles against US military and coalition forces in Iraq.”
“It is clear that these missiles were launched from Iran and targeted at least two Iraqi military bases hosting US military and coalition personnel at Asad and Erbil,” the Pentagon said.
There were no immediate reports on casualties but the Pentagon said it had been ready, after days of steadily mounting tension and exchanges of threats of war.
“These bases have been on high alert due to indications that the Iranian regime planned to attack our forces and interests in the region,” a spokesman said.
Iran confirms rocket attack on US forces in Iraq
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps confirmed it fired rockets at a US airbase in Iraq in revenge for the killing of Soleimani, according to a statement.
The statement also warned regional allies of the US that they will be attacked if their countries are used for targeting Iran.
Iran launches large attack on US-led forces in Iraq – Pentagon
Iran has launched an attack on US-led forces in Iraq, the US military said on Tuesday, adding Tehran fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles from Iranian territory against at least two Iraqi military bases hosting US-led coalition personnel.
“We are working on initial battle damage assessments,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement, adding that the bases targeted were at Asad airbase and another in Erbil, Iraq.
Iran’s IRGC targeted Iraq’s Ain al Asad airbase – Mehr news
The IRGC said it targeted Iraq’s Ain al Asad air base in west Iraq, according to Mehr, the Iranian news agency.
Attacks under way on multiple locations in Iraq – US official
The US believes there have been potentially multiple attacks on locations in Iraq, including Ain al Asad airbase that hosts US forces, a US official told Reuters, without providing additional information.
It was unclear what other sites may have been attacked.
Another US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, had confirmed to Reuters earlier that a rocket attack had taken place against al Asad airbase, but did not confirm other sites.
US president ‘monitoring the situation closely’
Trump has been briefed on reports of an attack on US facilities in Iraq and is monitoring the situation, White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said on Tuesday.
“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,” White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.
Tehran fires at Iraqi base housing US troops – Iran state media
Iran state TV says Tehran has launched “tens” of surface-to-surface missiles at Iraq’s Ain al Asad airbase housing US troops over America’s killing of a top Iranian general.
State TV described it early Wednesday as Tehran’s revenge operation over the killing of Soleimani.
US forces could not be immediately reached for comment.