Iran fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two military bases in Iraq where American troops are based, the Pentagon said Tuesday.
“It is clear that these missiles were launched from Iran and targeted at least two Iraqi military bases hosting U.S. military and coalition personnel at Al-Asad and Erbil,” Jonathan Hoffman, the Pentagon’s chief spokesman, said in a statement.
There were no immediate reports of casualties, and the Pentagon said Tuesday evening that it was still assessing the damage.
Iranian officials said the attacks were the start of a promised retaliation for the killing of a top Revolutionary Guards commander. “The fierce revenge by the Revolutionary Guards has begun,” Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said in a statement on a Telegram channel.
In the tense hours following the American killing of a top Iranian military commander, the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, made a rare appearance at a meeting of the government’s National Security Council to lay down the parameters for any retaliation. It must be a direct and proportional attack on American interests, he said, openly carried out by Iranian forces themselves, three Iranians familiar with the meeting said Monday.
It was a startling departure for the Iranian leadership. Since the establishment of the Islamic Republic in 1979, Tehran had almost always cloaked its attacks behind the actions of proxies it had cultivated around the region. But in the fury generated by the killing of the military commander, Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, a close ally and personal friend of the supreme leader, the ayatollah was willing to cast aside those traditional cautions.