cloudy.png
Tuesday January 21st, 2020 9:53AM

Iranian leader calls missile attack a 'slap' at US bases

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran struck back at the United States early Wednesday for killing its most powerful military commander, firing a barrage of ballistic missiles at two Iraqi military bases that house American troops in what the Iranian supreme leader said was a “slap” against the U.S. military presence in the region.

The dramatic blast of more than a dozen missiles caused no casualties, however, and U.S. President Donald Trump said hours later that Iran “appears to be standing down.

It was a signal that both sides were stepping away from an immediate spiral of more direct exchanges that could throw the Middle East into great turmoil.

Speaking at the White House, Trump said the U.S. would impose new “punishing economic sanctions” on Iran to force it to stop its nuclear program and what he called its “hostilities” in the region. But he also said Washington was open to a deal with Tehran.

Iran, in turn, appeared to have calibrated its attack to avoid stoking further U.S. retaliation, giving some early warning to its Iraqi allies to avoid casualties.

“Last night they received a slap,” Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said of the Americans in a speech after the missile strikes.

He made clear that Iran's actions were in response to the U.S. killing of Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani, whose death last week in a drone strike in Baghdad prompted angry calls for vengeance and drew massive crowds of Iranians to the streets in mourning. Khamenei himself wept at the funeral in a sign of his bond with the commander.

“These military actions are not sufficient (for revenge). What is important is that the corrupt presence of America in this region comes to an end."

Satellite imagery showed at least five impact sites on the Ain al-Asad base in Iraq’s western Anbar province, each leaving charred blast marks that damaged or destroyed buildings. One obliterated a structure in a row of buildings next to a line of helicopters, though none of the aircraft appeared damaged, according to the imagery provided by Planet Labs, Inc.

Iran's foreign minister tweeted that Tehran had taken and "concluded proportionate measures in self-defense,” adding that Tehran did “not seek escalation" but would defend itself against further aggression.

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi said he received notification from Iran just after midnight that its retaliation “was starting or would start soon” and would focus only on U.S. positions. The militaries of Finland and Lithuania, which had personnel at one of the targeted bases, said they received information about an imminent attack and had time to move to shelters or leave the base.

Iran’s attacks “appeared designed for maximum domestic effect with minimum escalatory risk,” said Henry Rome, analyst with Eurasia Group.

"For a president who wants to avoid a war in the Middle East during an election year, the Iranians have provided an off-ramp he will likely take," Rome said.

Tensions have risen steadily in the Middle East since Trump unilaterally withdrew America from Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers.

The Iranian attacks on the bases marked the first time in recent years that Iran has directly attacked U.S. positions rather than through proxies in the region.

Tehran and Washington have been at odds since Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution and the subsequent U.S. Embassy takeover and hostage crisis.

Adding to the chaos, a Ukrainian airplane with 176 people crashed after takeoff just outside Tehran on Wednesday morning, killing all on board, Iranian and Ukrainian officials said. Iran said mechanical issues were suspected, although Ukraine declined to offer a cause while an investigation continues.

The Boeing 737-800 had taken off from Imam Khomeini International Airport, bound for the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv. The plane carried 167 passengers and nine crew members. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko said there were 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians and 11 Ukrainians on board — the Ukrainian nationals included two passengers and the nine crew. The rest were Swedish, Afghan, German and British nationals.

The U.S. Federation Aviation Administration earlier warned of a "potential for miscalculation or mis-identification" for civilian aircraft in the Persian Gulf. The agency barred U.S. carriers from flying over areas of Iraqi, Iranian and some Persian Gulf countries.

The U.S. has been deploying more troops in the region. U.S. Gulf allies that host thousands of American troops are concerned about a direct conflict. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have called for de-escalation.

“The situation is not currently a war situation,” UAE Energy Minister Suhail Al-Mazrouei said, stressing that Iran is a neighbor and the last thing the country wants is more regional tension.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard warned the U.S. and its allies against retaliating over the missile attack.

“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 in a statement carried by Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency. It also threatened Israel.

The Iranians fired 15 missiles Wednesday, two U.S. officials said. Ten hit Ain al-Asad and one targeted a base in Irbil in Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region. Four failed, said the officials, who were not authorized to speak publicly about a military operation.

“As we evaluate the situation and our response, we will take all necessary measures to protect and defend U.S. personnel, partners and allies in the region,” said Jonathan Hoffman, an assistant to the U.S. defense secretary.

Two Iraqi security officials said a missile appeared to have hit a plane at Ain al-Asad, igniting a fire. There were no immediate reports of casualties from the attacks, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they did not have permission to talk to journalists.

Ain al-Asad was first used by American forces after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein, and it later was used by American troops in the fight against the Islamic State group. It houses about 1,500 U.S. and coalition forces. Trump went there in December 2018, making his first presidential visit to troops in the region. Vice President Mike Pence also has visited.

As Iran reels from the loss of life in the plane crash, it is also contending with the aftermath of a deadly stampede Tuesday at Soleimani's funeral in his hometown of Kerman, killing 56 people and injuring more than 200. Shortly after Wednesday's missile attack, Soleimani's shroud-wrapped remains were lowered into the ground as mourners wailed at the grave site.

“We tell our enemies that we will retaliate, but if they take another action we will set ablaze the places that they like and are passionate about," Hossein Salami, who commands the Revolutionary Guard, told a crowd in Kerman.

The general's funeral procession in major cities spanning three days was an unprecedented honor for Soleimani, seen by Iranians as a national hero for his work leading the Guard’s expeditionary Quds Force in the face of U.S. pressure.

The U.S. blames him for killing U.S. troops in Iraq. The Trump administration alleges he'd been plotting new attacks just before he was killed.

Many Sunni Muslims in the region, however, view him as a destabilizing figure who commanded dangerous and deadly Shiite proxy militias. Soleimani led forces supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad in that country's civil war.

Since his killing Jan. 3, Tehran has abandoned the remaining limits of its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. In Iraq, lawmakers and pro-Iranian factions in parliament have voted to oust American troops from Iraqi territory.

Kuwait said Wednesday that its state-run KUNA news agency’s Twitter account was hacked and posted a false story on U.S. troops withdrawing from the nation. The fake alert went out on its account, Kuwait said. More than 13,000 U.S. troops are stationed in Kuwait, with more now on the way.

___

Gambrell reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Associated Press writers Aya Batrawy in Dubai, Matthew Lee, Lolita C. Baldor and Zeke Miller in Washington, Qassim Abdul-Zahra in Baghdad; Hussain al-Qatari in Kuwait City and Zeina Karam in Beirut contributed.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP World News, AP World News - International incidents
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Iranian leader calls missile attack a 'slap' at US bases
Iran has struck back at the United States for killing a top Revolutionary Guard commander, calling it revenge for the U.S. killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani
12:13PM ( 4 minutes ago )
US sanctions South Sudan's vice president over abuses
The United States has imposed sanctions on South Sudan's vice president citing his involvement in serious human rights abuses
12:02PM ( 15 minutes ago )
Judge orders mental exam for man charged in grisly slaying
A Michigan judge has ordered a mental competency evaluation for a man charged in the slaying and mutilation of a man he met through the dating app Grindr. The Flint Journal reports that the judge issued the order during a hearing Wednesday in Corunna
12:02PM ( 15 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Jury selection process continues in Weinstein's rape trial
Harvey Weinstein has returned to a New York courthouse for jury selection in his rape trial
11:44AM ( 33 minutes ago )
Vegas building where fire killed 6 cited for code violations
Inspectors have cited a downtown Las Vegas apartment building for 16 fire code violations following a Dec. 21 fire that killed six people and injured 13 others
11:29AM ( 48 minutes ago )
Ukrainian airliner crashes in Iran, killing all 176 aboard
The Iranian military is disputing any suggestion that the Ukrainian airliner that crashed on the outskirts of Tehran was brought down by a missile
11:27AM ( 51 minutes ago )
AP National News
Fugitive tycoon Ghosn: Japan arrest was a plot
Ex-Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn has described his arrest in Japan, from which he fled last month in a daring escape, as a plot against him
10:30AM ( 1 hour ago )
Ukrainian airplane crashes near Iran's capital, killing 176
A Ukrainian passenger jet carrying 176 people has crashed just minutes after taking off from the Iranian capital's main airport, turning farmland on the outskirts of Tehran into fields of flaming debris and killing all on board
10:20AM ( 1 hour ago )
Fugitive ex-car tycoon Ghosn: Japan arrest was a plot
Ex-Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn has described his arrest in Japan, from which he fled last month in a daring escape, as a plot against him
10:06AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Online National News
The Latest: Oxfam downscales Iraq aid amid Iran-US tensions
Oxfam says it is restricting its humanitarian work in Iraq due to serious security concerns following Iranian missile attacks on military bases hosting U.S. troops there
11:28AM ( 49 minutes ago )
Erdogan, Putin call for cease-fire in Libya from Jan 12
Turkey and Russia has called for a cease-fire in war-torn Libya while European Union officials intensified their diplomatic efforts to cool tensions by holding talks with the north African country's prime minister
10:45AM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Putin, Erdogan warn against more use of force
The Russian and Turkish presidents in a joint statement after a closed-door meeting on Mideast security are warning that the further use of force “would lead to a new cycle of instability and would eventually damage everyone’s interests
10:42AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP World News
The Latest: Cyprus OKs US request to deploy evacuation team
An official says the Cyprus government has approved a U.S. request to temporarily deploy a "rapid reaction" team to help evacuate personnel from U.S. diplomatic missions in nearby countries if needed
8:18AM ( 3 hours ago )
The Latest: Slovenia will evacuate soldiers based in Iraq
Slovenia’s defense ministry says 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 U.S. killing of Iran's top general
7:14AM ( 5 hours ago )
The Latest: Syria supports Iran on missile strike against US
The Syrian government is expressing full solidarity with Iran, saying Tehran has the right to defend itself “in the face of American threats and attacks
6:59AM ( 5 hours ago )
AP World News - International incidents
US sanctions South Sudan's vice president over abuses
The United States has imposed sanctions on South Sudan's vice president citing his involvement in serious human rights abuses
12:02PM ( 15 minutes ago )
Judge orders mental exam for man charged in grisly slaying
A Michigan judge has ordered a mental competency evaluation for a man charged in the slaying and mutilation of a man he met through the dating app Grindr. The Flint Journal reports that the judge issued the order during a hearing Wednesday in Corunna
12:02PM ( 15 minutes ago )
Serbian church protests 'suffering' of Serbs in the Balkans
Thousands of people have protested in Serbia's capital against the alleged suppression of religious and other rights of Serb minorities in neighboring countries
11:56AM ( 21 minutes ago )
The Latest: Trump calls on NATO allies to up role in Mideast
President Donald Trump says he is going to ask NATO to become much more involved in the Middle East. Trump spoke during an address Wednesday from the White House after Iran struck back at the United States for killing its most powerful military commander
11:56AM ( 21 minutes ago )
Trump says Iran appears to be 'standing down' after strike
President Donald Trump says Iran appears to be “standing down” and said no Americans or Iraqis were harmed in Iran's Tuesday ballistic missile strike on two Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops
11:53AM ( 24 minutes ago )