Iran Fires Missiles at 2 Iraqi Air Bases Housing US Forces, Pentagon Says


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PENTAGON - Iran fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles early Wednesday targeting at least two Iraqi air bases that house U.S. troops, the Pentagon said.

U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted hours later that an assessment of casualties and damage was taking place, but that "So far, so good!"

"We have the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world, by far!" he said.

Trump met with his national security team at the White House, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper.  He planned to make a statement Wednesday morning.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in his own tweet that Iran had taken and concluded "proportionate measures in self defense" by targeting a base "from which cowardly armed attack against our citizens & senior officials were launched."

"We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression," Zarif said.

The missile attack was the latest step in a series of events that have unfolded in the past two weeks with increasing tensions between the United States and Iran.  The U.S. blamed an Iran-backed militia for a rocket attack on an Iraqi base that killed a U.S. military contractor.  U.S. airstrikes then hit that militia's positions in Iraq and Syria, drawing complaints from the Iraqi government and militia-led demonstrations at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.  On Friday, a U.S. airstrike killed Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran's elite Quds force, near Baghdad's airport.

The Pentagon said the missiles launched from Iran targeted the Al-Asad base, located about 60 kilometers west of Baghdad, as well as one in Irbil, part of Iraq's semiautonomous Kurdish region.

Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps sent out a statement hailing what it says was a successful missile attack on Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops, calling it "revenge for the assassination and martyrdom of  Qassem Soleimani," commander of Iran's elite Quds force.

An Iraqi security source told CNN that there are casualties among the Iraqis at al-Asad air base following the attack. But it is not yet known whether those causalities are wounded or killed.

Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told CNN that "The President and his crew better figure out a way to tone things down, because we could be in the midst of a full-blown war."

"What we have to do now is tone down the rhetoric on all sides and extricate ourselves from this situation," he added.

US forces have been on high alert since Iran threatened to strike back after last week's targeted killing of Soleimani.

"We will take all necessary measures to protect and defend U.S. personnel, partners, and allies in the region," the Pentagon spokesman says.

Jeff Seldin contributed to this report.

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