The Mercury News, by Nasser Karimi, Amir Vahdat, and Jon Gambrell: Iran struck back at the United States early Wednesday for killing a top Revolutionary Guards commander, firing a series of ballistic missiles at two military bases in Iraq housing American troops in a major escalation between the two longtime foes.
Iranian state TV said it was in revenge for the U.S. killing of Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani, whose death last week in an American drone strike near Baghdad prompted angry calls to avenge his slaying. A U.S. official said there were no immediate reports of American casualties, though buildings were still being searched.
Soleimani’s killing and the strikes by Iran came as tensions have been rising steadily across the Mideast after President Donald Trump’s decision to unilaterally withdraw America from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers. They also marked the first time in recent years that Washington and Tehran have attacked each other directly rather than through proxies in the region. It raised the chances of open conflict erupting between the two enemies, which have been at odds since Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.
But in a tweet shortly after the missile launches, Iran’s foreign minister called a ballistic missile attack a “proportionate measures in self-defense” and said it was not seeking to escalate the situation but would defend itself against any aggression.
Iran initially announced only one strike, but U.S. officials confirmed both. U.S. defense officials were at the White House, likely to discuss options with Trump, who launched the strike on Soleimani while facing an upcoming impeachment trial in the Senate.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard warned the U.S. and its regional allies against retaliating over the missile attack against the Ain al-Asad air base in Iraq’s western Anbar province. The Guard issued the warning via a statement carried by Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency.
“We are warning all American allies, who gave their bases to its terrorist army, that any territory that is the starting point of aggressive acts against Iran will be targeted,” The Guard said. It also threatened Israel.
After the strikes, a former Iranian nuclear negotiator posted a picture of the Islamic Republic’s flag on Twitter, appearing to mimic Trump who posted an American flag following the killing of Soleimani and others Friday in a drone strike in Baghdad.
Iranian state TV said the Guard’s aerospace division that controls Iran’s missile program launched the attack, which it said was part of an operation dubbed “Martyr Soleimani.” Iran said it would release more information later.
The U.S. also acknowledged another missile attack on a base in Irbil in Iraq’s semiautonomous Kurdish region.
Wednesday’s revenge attack happened a mere few hours after crowds in Iran mourned Soleimani at his funeral. It also came [as] the U.S. continued to reinforce its own positions in the region and warned of an unspecified threat to shipping from Iran in the region’s waterways, crucial routes for global energy supplies. U.S. embassies and consulates from Asia to Africa and Europe issued security alerts for Americans. The FAA also warned of a “potential for miscalculation or mis-identification” for civilian aircraft in the Persian Gulf amid in an emergency flight restriction.
“In the last scenes of this earth’s history war will rage. There will be pestilence, plague and famine. The waters of the deep will overflow their boundaries. Property and life will be destroyed by fire and flood. We should be preparing for the mansions that Christ has gone to prepare for them that love Him.” Maranatha, page 174.