World

Iranian missiles hit bases housing US troops in Iraq

Addressing the nation, US President suggests tension with Iran could be cooling after attack

BAGHDAD/WASHINGTON In a morning address to the nation, US President Donald Trump said yesterday there were no American casualties from the Iranian missile attack on military bases in Iraq.

Flanked by his generals and members of his cabinet at the White House, Mr Trump said: "No Americans were harmed in last night's attack by the Iranian regime.

"We suffered no casualties. All of our soldiers are safe and only minimal damage was sustained at our military bases."

Mr Trump opened his address by stating that the US would never allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.

He added: "Our great American forces are prepared for anything.

"Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world."

Hours earlier, Iranian forces had fired missiles at military bases housing US troops in Iraq in retaliation for the US killing of an Iranian general, raising the stakes in its conflict with Washington amid concern of a wider war in the Middle East.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, addressing a gathering of Iranians chanting "death to America", said the attacks were a "slap on the face" and insisted US troops should leave the region.

Teheran's Foreign Minister said Iran took "proportionate measures" in self-defence and did not seek to escalate the confrontation.

Mr Trump, who ordered the drone strike that killed General Soleimani in Baghdad on Friday, gave an initial response on Twitter: "All is well!"

Casualties and damage from the missile attacks were being assessed.

Mr Trump, who faces an election this year, at the weekend threatened to target 52 Iranian sites if Iran retaliated for Gen Soleimani's killing.

CRITICISM

He later backtracked after facing strong criticism that such attacks would be a war crime. Mr Trump said he was "okay" with following international law.

Iranian state television said Iran had fired 15 ballistic missiles from its territory at US targets in its neighbour Iraq.

The bases targeted were Al-Asad air base and another facility in Erbil, the Pentagon said.

Germany, Denmark, Norway and Poland said none of their troops in Iraq were hurt. Britain, which also has personnel in Iraq, condemned the Iranian action. Iraq said its forces did not suffer casualties.

More than 5,000 US troops remain in Iraq along with the other foreign forces in a coalition that has trained and backed Iraqi forces against the threat of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria militants.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the strikes "concluded" Teheran's response to the killing of Gen Soleimani, who had been responsible for building up Iran's network of proxy armies across the Middle East.

He was buried in his hometown of Kerman on Monday after days of national mourning.

"We do not seek escalation or war but will defend ourselves against any aggression," he wrote on Twitter.

Iranian television reported an official in the supreme leader's office as saying the missile attacks were the "weakest"of several retaliation scenarios.

It quoted another source saying Iran had lined up 100 other potential targets. - REUTERS

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