cloudy.png
Tuesday October 27th, 2020 1:59PM

US troops knew Iran strike was coming hours ahead

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

AIN AL-ASAD BASE, Iraq (AP) — American troops were informed of an imminent attack hours before a barrage of Iranian ballistic missiles struck a key Iraqi airbase hosting their forces, U.S. military officials said on Monday, days after the attack which marked a major escalation between the longtime foes.

At 11:00 p.m. on Jan. 6, U.S. Lt. Col. Antoinette Chase gave the order for American troops at Ain al-Asad air base, in western Iraq, to go on lockdown. Military movements froze as her team, responsible for emergency response at the base, sent out alerts keeping them up to date about the incoming threat. At 11:30 she gave the order to take cover in bunkers.

The first strike landed sometime after 1:35 in the morning, and the barrage continued for nearly 2 hours.

“The reason why we pushed it at 2330 is because at that point in time all indications pointed to something coming,” she told reporters at the base.

“Worst case scenario we were told was it’s probably going to be a missile attack. So we were informed of that.”

The Iranian attack was in retaliation for the U.S. drone strike near Baghdad airport that killed a top Iranian commander, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, prompting angry calls to avenge his slaying.

An Associated Press crew touring the Ain al-Asad base Monday saw large craters in the ground and damaged military trailers as well as forklifts lifting rubble and loading it onto trucks from a large area the size of a football stadium. U.S. soldiers inspected portable housing units destroyed and burned by the missile attack.

The air base in Iraq’s western Anbar province is a sprawling complex about 180 kilometers (110 miles) west of Baghdad shared with the Iraqi military and housing about 1,500 members of the U.S. military and the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State militant group.

It was struck by Iranian missiles on Wednesday in Iran’s most direct assault on America since the 1979 seizing of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. The proxy attack raised fears of a wider war in the Middle East although both sides have since indicated that they don't seek further retaliation, at least in the short term.

The U.S. said no American soldiers were killed or wounded in the Iranian attack.

“There were more than 10 large missiles fired and the impact hit several areas along the airfield,” said Col. Myles Caggins, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He added that the explosions created large craters, knocked over concrete barriers and destroyed facilities that house dozens of soldiers.

One of the missiles hit near an airstrip where six drones were parked, causing no damage.

Although no soldiers were killed, he said several were treated for concussions from the blast and are being assessed by professionals. Caggins added that troops received notification the missiles were on their way thanks to early warning systems, and troops were moved out of harm's way. He described soldiers who lived through the attack as “warriors.”

The Ain al-Asad air base was first used by American forces after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein, and later saw American troops stationed there amid the fight against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

President Donald Trump visited the sprawling air base in December 2018, making his first presidential visit to troops in the region. Vice President Mike Pence has also visited the base.

On Monday, most soldiers walked around the base without wearing any body armor, amid the area's large tents and street signs written mostly in English. The base is ringed by large concrete barriers.

Chase said troops had conducted a drill on something similar the week prior to the attack and that they had received some warnings earlier in the day.

“I had zero casualties and everybody is alive to tell the tale. So as far as I'm concerned, I couldn't be happier and I couldn't be prouder of the actions that the soldiers and the coalition forces took that night,” she added.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
2020 Democratic race is wide open in Iowa as caucuses near
Presidential candidates have swarmed Iowa’s rolling landscape for more than a year, making their pitch to potential supporters on college campuses, county fairgrounds and in high school gymnasiums. But three weeks before the caucuses usher in the Democratic contest, the battle for the state is wide open
1:44PM ( 5 minutes ago )
‘Joker’ leads Oscar noms; ‘1917,’ ‘Irishman’ close behind
Female filmmakers have been shut out, “Parasite” has made history and “Joker” has edged out all other films in this year's Academy Awards nominations
1:25PM ( 24 minutes ago )
Trump to promote trade deals in Sunday speech to US farmers
The White House says President Donald Trump will highlight his policies on trade and domestic energy when he addresses the American Farm Bureau Federation's annual convention Sunday in Austin, Texas
1:23PM ( 26 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
High anxiety: Proposed US hemp rules worry industry
Hemp growers and entrepreneurs rejoiced a year ago when U.S. lawmakers reclassified the plant as a legal agricultural crop
1:04PM ( 45 minutes ago )
Anger in Iran over jet's downing; gunfire disperses protests
Popular anger is swelling in Iran over the accidental shootdown of a Ukrainian jetliner and the government's attempt to conceal its role in the tragedy
12:43PM ( 1 hour ago )
Queen agrees to let Harry, Meghan move part-time to Canada
Queen Elizabeth II has agreed to grant Prince Harry and and his wife Meghan their wish for a more independent life, allowing them to move part-time to Canada while remaining firmly in the House of Windsor
12:29PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Change that can win? Democrats grapple with core question
Democratic voters across the country are grappling with a core question as they size up their party's leading candidates three weeks before primary voting begins: How much change is too much in 2020? It's a question that has plagued candidates and voters over the last year in the Democratic Party's quest to identify the person best positioned to defeat President Donald Trump in November
11:29AM ( 2 hours ago )
Lava gushes from volcano near Manila; tens of thousands flee
Red-hot lava is spewing from a volcano near the Philippine capital of Manila
10:19AM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Online National News
2020 Democratic race is wide open in Iowa as caucuses near
Presidential candidates have swarmed Iowa’s rolling landscape for more than a year, making their pitch to potential supporters on college campuses, county fairgrounds and in high school gymnasiums. But three weeks before the caucuses usher in the Democratic contest, the battle for the state is wide open
1:44PM ( 5 minutes ago )
‘Joker’ leads Oscar noms; ‘1917,’ ‘Irishman’ close behind
Female filmmakers have been shut out, “Parasite” has made history and “Joker” has edged out all other films in this year's Academy Awards nominations
1:25PM ( 24 minutes ago )
Trump to promote trade deals in Sunday speech to US farmers
The White House says President Donald Trump will highlight his policies on trade and domestic energy when he addresses the American Farm Bureau Federation's annual convention Sunday in Austin, Texas
1:23PM ( 26 minutes ago )
Gigi Hadid among potential jurors for Weinstein's rape trial
Supermodel Gigi Hadid is in the running to be a juror in Harvey Weinstein’s rape trial after telling a judge that she thinks she would be able to “keep an open mind on the facts
1:22PM ( 27 minutes ago )
Despite differences, Spain gets its new coalition government
Spain's first coalition government in the four decades since the return of democracy took shape Monday as 22 Cabinet ministers took their oaths of office
1:06PM ( 44 minutes ago )