Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) has targeted the US airbase of Ain al-Assad in Anbar province in western Iraq after launching a wave of attacks to retaliate the US assassination of top Iranian anti-terror commander, Lt. Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
“Tens of surface-to-surface missiles” were fired at the strategic airbase and the attack was later confirmed by the US officials.
The IRGC has called for a complete withdrawal of US troops from the Arab country, asserting that it would not differentiate between the US and Israel in retaliating against the assassination of the Iranian national hero.
“We warn US allies providing bases for the [American] terrorist army… that any country serving as the origin of bellicose and aggressive attacks in any form against the Islamic Republic of Iran will be targeted,” read the IRGC statement.
The IRGC added that it would release more details about the strike.
The strike comes as no surprise since Iran had vowed to take a “harsh revenge” in the wake of the US terror attack.
Sirens were reportedly heard and American helicopters flew over the airbase and the total alert was activated.
US President Donald Trump was being briefed about the retaliatory strikes.
“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.
The Pentagon claimed that it would take necessary measures to protect the US military forces amid heightened tensions in the region.
“We are working on initial battle damage assessments,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in statement, adding that the bases targeted were at al-Assad air base and another in Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region.
“At approximately 5.30 pm (2230 GMT) on January 7, Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles against US military and coalition forces in Iraq,” Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement.
“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 Al-Assad and Irbil.”
Closely monitoring the situation following bombings targeting U.S. troops in Iraq. We must ensure the safety of our servicemembers, including ending needless provocations from the Administration and demanding that Iran cease its violence. America & world cannot afford war.
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) January 8, 2020
Following the strikes on Wednesday morning, oil prices rose over 4.5 percent at one point. The benchmark WTI jumped as much as 4.53 percent to $65.54 a barrel before settling down.
Global stock markets have also plunged as investors took fright at the escalating tensions. Tokyo opened sharply lower on Wednesday. The benchmark Nikkei 225 index dropped 1.57 percent or 370.40 points to 23,205.32 in early trade, while the broader Topix index was down 1.35 percent or 23.32 points at 1,701.73.
Wall Street stocks lost more ground, with The Dow Jones Industrial Average losing 0.4 percent to close the session at 28,583.68. The broad-based S&P 500 shed 0.3 percent to finish at 3,237.18 but the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index dipped only a fraction to 9,068.58.
Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) anti-terror group, better known as Hashd al-Sha’abi forces, announced the start of Crushing Response Operation to the United States.
Meanwhile, White House was preparing for an address to the US nation by the American commander in chief.
The story is being updated…
Featured image: Courtesy of Alaa Ghazy @alaaghazy2010