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A still image from an Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting video shot on January 8, 2020, allegedly shows rockets launched from Iran againts the US military base in Ain Al Assad in Iraq. Image Credit: AFP

Baghdad/Washington: Iran said it launched a missile attack on US-led forces in Iraq in the early hours of Wednesday in retaliation for the US drone strike on an Iranian commander whose killing has raised fears of a wider war in the Middle East.

Tehran fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles from Iranian territory against at least two Iraqi military bases hosting US-led coalition personnel at about 1.30am local time (2.30am UAE), the US military said on Tuesday.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps confirmed that they fired the rockets to retaliate for last week’s killing of Qassem Soleimani, according to a statement on state TV. The statement advised the United States to withdraw its troops from the region to prevent more deaths, state TV said. Follow the live updates here:

US House in non-binding vote to curb Trump powers

In a rebuke to President Donald Trump, the US House voted Thursday to restrict his future military action against Iran, as lawmakers sought to claw back congressional war powers from the White House.

The non-binding resolution was introduced by Democrats after Trump’s order to kill an Iranian commander and retaliatory missile strikes by the Islamic republic dramatically escalated tensions and raised fears of a war between the two foes.

The vote, 224 to 194, was largely along party lines, although three members of Trump’s Republican Party joined Democrats in approving the measure that demands the president not engage in military action against Iran unless authorized by Congress.

Iran says it had prepared hundreds of missiles

The brigadier general who leads Iran's aerospace program says its forces launched 13 missiles at bases in Iraq used by U.S. troops early Wednesday "but we were ready to launch hundreds."

Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh also told Iranian state television his forces simultaneously carried out a cyberattack on a U.S. military monitoring service in Iraq.

He asserted that dozens of U.S. forces were killed and wounded "but we were not after killing anyone in this operation." He said that "we were after hitting the enemy's military machine."

Iran sent 'mixed signals' Thursday as tensions with the U.S. appeared to ease, with President Hassan Rouhani warning of a "very dangerous response'' if the U.S. makes "another mistake'' and a senior commander vowing "harsher revenge" for the killing of a top Iranian general.

Both sides appeared to step back on Wednesday after Iran launched a series of ballistic missiles at two military bases housing American troops in Iraq without causing any casualties.

US House to vote on preventing Trump from Iran war

The Democratic-led US House of Representatives will vote Thursday to prevent President Donald Trump from waging war with Iran after he ordered the killing of a top general, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

Pelosi said that the Democrats will move forward because their concerns were not addressed in a closed-door briefing to lawmakers Wednesday by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other top officials.

"The president has made clear that he does not have a coherent strategy to keep the American people safe, achieve de-escalation with Iran and ensure stability in the region," Pelosi said in a statement.

"Our concerns were not addressed by the president's insufficient War Powers Act notification and by the administration's briefing today," she said.

Under the 1973 War Powers Act, the administration needs to notify Congress on major military actions but Trump, unusually, has kept classified his rationale for a strike that killed powerful Iranian general Qasem Soleimani while he was in Iraq.

Pelosi said that the House would therefore vote, under the 1973 act, to limit Trump's ability to wage war against Iran.

Trump speaks to the world

US President Donald Trump said Wednesday Iran appeared to be "standing down" after missile strikes on US troop bases in Iraq that resulted in no American or Iraqi deaths.

"All of our soldiers are safe and only minimal damage was sustained at our military bases. Our great American forces are prepared for anything," he said in an address to the nation from the White House.

"Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world. No American or Iraqi lives were lost."

Trump announced the United States would be imposing "additional punishing sanctions" on Iran but made no mention of possible retaliation to Tuesday's missile attacks - seen by experts as a measured first response by Iran to the killing of General Qasem Soleimani in an American drone strike.

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Trump to address the US

US President Donald Trump faces one of the greatest tests of his presidency after Iran launched ballistic missiles at Iraqi bases housing US troops and plans to address the nation on Wednesday at 11am (local time). Iran's attack was its most brazen direct assault on America since the 1979 seizing of the US Embassy in Tehran.

The strikes pushed Tehran and Washington perilously close to war and put the world's attention on Trump as he weighs whether to respond with more military force.

UAE issues statement

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said it was closely following regional developments, and reaffirmed the importance of de-escalating current tensions.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Ministry stressed the importance of dialogue and political solutions in the current situation.

It also confirmed that recent developments will not affect citizens, residents, or visitors to the UAE.

The Ministry said that all sectors across the country continue to operate as normal.

UN mission says Iraq 'should not pay price for external rivalries'

The United Nations mission in Iraq said on Wednesday the country should not be made to "pay the price" in the escalating conflict between Tehran and Washington.

The UN mission said in a statement that the latest strikes "again violate Iraqi sovereignty" and added: "We call for urgent restraint and a resumption of dialogue. Iraq should not pay the price for external rivalries."

'We don't retreat in face of America': Iran president

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said the Islamic republic's response on Wednesday to a US strike that killed one of its general shows "we don't retreat in the face of America".

"If America has committed a crime... it should know that it will receive a decisive response," Rouhani said in a televised address, hours after Iran fired missiles at Iraqi bases housing US troops.

"If they are wise, they won't take any other action at this juncture."

Iraq speaker condemns 'Iranian violation of Iraqi sovereignty'

The speaker of the Iraqi parliament, Mohammed Al Halbusi, on Wednesday condemned a salvo of retaliatory Iranian missile strikes on Iraqi bases housing US-led troops as a "violation of Iraqi sovereignty".

Halbusi, the most senior Sunni Arab in Iraq's confessional power-sharing system, called for urgent measures to stop Iraq being turned into a proxy battlefield for outside powers, including Shiite Iran.

"While we condemn the Iranian violation of Iraqi sovereignty at dawn today... we confirm our absolute refusal to the conflicting parties to use the Iraqi arena to settle scores," he said.

Turkish foreign minister to visit Iraq Thursday

Turkey's foreign minister will visit Iraq on Thursday as part of diplomatic efforts to "alleviate the escalated tension" in the region, a ministry statement said.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also spoke with his Iranian counterpart Wednesday after Iran fired more than 20 missiles overnight at bases in Iraq used by US troops in retaliation for the US killing of Iran's top military commander last week in Baghdad.

Turkey has called for calm and expressed concern about regional security after the US drone strike. Turkey shares a border with Iran and Iraq and is engaged militarily in northern Iraq against Kurdish militants.

UK's Johnson urges Iran to pursue 'urgent de-escalation'

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday called on Iran not to repeat rocket attacks on Iraqi bases housing coalition forces after a US strike killed one of Tehran's top commanders.

Johnson told parliament: "Iran should not repeat these reckless and dangerous attacks but should instead pursue urgent de-escalation."

NATO chief condemns Iran rocket attacks

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday condemned Iranian rocket attacks on Iraqi bases housing US troops, carried out in revenge for the killing of one of Tehran's top commanders in an American drone strike.

"I condemn the Iranian missile attacks on US and coalition forces in Iraq. NATO calls on Iran to refrain from further violence," Stoltenberg tweeted.

A NATO official said that there were no casualties among the troops on its training mission in Iraq.

Iraq says Iran informed it of imminent missile attack

Iraq's prime minister's office said Wednesday it had received "an official verbal message" from Iran informing it that a missile attack on US forces stationed on Iraqi soil was imminent, reports AFP.

"We received an official verbal message from the Islamic Republic of Iran that the Iranian response to the assassination of Qasem Soleimani had begun or would begin shortly, and that the strike would be limited to where the US military was located in Iraq without specifying the locations," the office said.

Lufthansa says halts overflying Iran and Iraq

German airline giant Lufthansa said Wednesday it would not overfly Iran and Iraq "until further notice", after Tehran launched missiles at US bases in Iraq.

"We are no longer overflying Iran and Iraq until further notice," a Lufthansa spokesman told AFP, adding that Wednesday's daily Frankfurt-Tehran flight was cancelled, while Saturday's twice-weekly service to northern Iraqi city Erbil would also not depart.

Gargash calls for restraint

It is essential that the region pulls back from the current and troubling tensions, UAE UAE Minister Anwar Gargash said. "De-escalation is both wise and necessary. A political path towards stability must follow," he tweeted.


Ukraine International suspends Iran flights

Ukraine International Airlines involved in a crash that killed about 170 people on board early Wednesday has suspended flights to Tehran indefinitely, the airline said in a statement.

Concerned about reports of casualties: Dominic Raab

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab says the UK condemns Iran's attacks on Iraqi military bases that were hosting UK, US, and other coalition forces.

He says he is "concerned" by reports of casualties and the use of ballistic missiles.

“We urge Iran not to repeat these reckless and dangerous attacks, and instead to pursue urgent de-escalation," he says.

“A war in the Middle East would only benefit Daesh and other terrorist groups.”

Early warning received: Official

A US military official told CNN that the US military had received an early warning about the Iranian missile strike.

The American official, who was not named by the network, added that the warning received by the American military was early, and sufficient to enable them to reach the fortified rooms at the base.

Attack on US base in Iraq ‘successful’: Iran’s Khamenei

The attack against US military and coalition forces in Iraq was successful, Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday in a televised speech.

Airlines change routes to avoid Iranian airspace

Air Canada, Singapore Airlines and Srilankan Airlines altered their routes to avoid Iranian airspace. Other carriers in the Middle East continue to fly over Iran and Iraq, based on data from Flightradar24.com.

Iran's missile power

Iran missile ranges
Iran missile ranges Image Credit: Washington Post
190108 missile
Image Credit: Screengrab

How the US base was attacked

According to the Iraqi security official twitter account Iraq was under attack by 22 missiles. Seventeen fell on Ain Al Assad airbase, including two that did not explode in Al Hitan area. And another 5 rockets fell in Arbil.

He confirmed that all missiles fell on the coalition headquarters, and no casualties were recorded in the Iraqi forces.

Emirates cancels Baghdad flight

Emirates Airline cancelled a return flight to Baghdad on Wednesday following Iran's missile attack on U.S.-led forces in Iraq

"We are carefully monitoring the developments and are in close contact with the relevant government authorities with regards to our flight operations, and will make further operational changes if required," Emirates said in a statement.

Its sister carrier, flydubai, also cancelled a Wednesday flight to Baghdad.

Norway says none of its soldiers injured or killed

No Norwegian soldiers were injured or killed in Iran's missile strike on the Al Asad air base in Iraq, a Norwegian military spokesman told Reuters early on Wednesday.

The Nordic country has about 70 soldiers at the base, said Brynjar Stordal at Norway's military headquarters.

Indians asked to be vigilant, avoid travel

India's Ministry of External Affairs has asked Indians to avoid all non-essential travel to Iraq and those residing there to be on alert and avoid travel within.

DGCA, Directorate General of Civil Aviation, Government of India, asked Indian airlines to remain vigilant, take all precautions in airspace over Iran, Iraq, Gulf of Oman, waters of Arabian Gulf.

Oil jumps after Iran attacks reignite fears

Oil prices jumped after Iran attacked two US-Iraqi bases in its first response to the killing of its top general, sparking fears the deepening conflict will disrupt global crude supplies.

Futures in London briefly surged more than 5% to almost $72 a barrel as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps claimed responsibility for the missile strikes, which the Pentagon said were launched from Iran. Prices later pared more than half that advance after Iran's foreign minister said it had "concluded proportionate measures in self-defense" and US President Donald Trump tweeted that "all is well" following the attacks.

Philippines orders citizens in Iraq to leave

The Philippines has ordered its citizens to leave Iraq, the Philippine foreign ministry said on Wednesday, after Iran attacked US forces there in response to a US strike that killed an Iranian general last week.

"The alert level in the entire Iraq has been raised to alert level 4 calling for mandatory evacuation," said Eduardo Menez, spokesman at the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The department said there are 1,600 Filipinos working in Iraq, more than half in the Kurdistan region and the rest at US and other foreign facilities in Baghdad and in commercial establishments in Erbil.

Ukrainian plane crashes in Iran

Ukrainian Boeing 737 with 180 aboard crashes due to technical problems after take-off from Iran’s Imam Khomeini airport, Reuters reports quoting, Fars News.

All is well: Trump

"All is well," US President Donald Trump tweeted.

"Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq. Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good! We have the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world, by far!"

He will be making a statemenet later, Trump added.

The Pentagon did not provide reports of casualties in the attack.

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“We are working on initial battle damage assessments,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement, adding that the bases targeted were Al Asad air base and another in Erbil, Iraq.

“As we evaluate the situation and our response, we will take all necessary measures to protect and defend US personnel, partners, and allies in the region.” US President Donald Trump, who visited the Al Asad air base in December 2018, has been briefed on reports of the attack and was monitoring the situation, White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said.

“We are aware of the reports of attacks on US facilities in Iraq. The president has been briefed and is monitoring the situation closely and consulting with his national security team,” Grisham said in a statement.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US Defense Secretary Mark Esper arrived at the White House following news of the attack. It was unclear what response, if any, the United States was planning.

Hours earlier on Tuesday, Esper said the United States should anticipate retaliation from Iran over Friday’s killing in Iraq of Soleimani, commander of the elite Quds Force.

“I think we should expect that they will retaliate in some way, shape or form,” he told a news briefing at the Pentagon, adding that such retaliation could be through Iran-backed proxy groups outside of Iran or “by their own hand.” “We’re prepared for any contingency. And then we will respond appropriately to whatever they do.” Stock markets in Asia fell sharply on news of the rocket attack, while investor safe havens including the Japanese yen and gold shot higher.

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US President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump on a recent visit at Al Assad Air Base, Iraq. Image Credit: AP

Soleimani, a pivotal figure in orchestrating Iran’s long-standing campaign to drive US forces out of Iraq, was also responsible for building up Tehran’s network of proxy armies across the Middle East.

He was a national hero to many Iranians, whether supporters of the clerical leadership or not, but viewed as a dangerous villain by Western governments opposed to Iran’s arc of influence running across the Levant and into the Gulf region.

‘We will take revenge’

A senior Iranian official said on Tuesday that Tehran was considering several scenarios to avenge Soleimani’s death. Other senior figures have said the Islamic Republic would match the scale of the killing when it responds, but that it would choose the time and place.

“We will take revenge, a hard and definitive revenge,” the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, General Hossein Salami, told throngs who crowded the streets for Soleimani’s funeral on Tuesday in Kerman, his hometown in southeastern Iran.

Soleimani’s burial went ahead after several hours of delay following a stampede that killed at least 56 people and injured more than 210, according an emergency official quoted by Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency.

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In this Nov. 8, 2017, file photo, U.S. Marines are stationed in Ain Al Asad air base in Iraq. Image Credit: AP

Soleimani’s body had been taken to cities in Iraq and Iran, as well as the Iranian capital, Tehran, before arriving to be buried in the city cemetery’s “martyrs section”, according to the semi-official news agency ISNA.

In each place, huge numbers of people filled thoroughfares, chanting: “Death to America” and weeping with emotion. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei wept as he led prayers in Tehran.

Prompted by the strong public backlash over Soleimani’s killing on Iraqi soil, lawmakers in Iraq voted on Sunday to demand a removal of all foreign forces from the country.

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

A Nato official told Reuters it would move some of its several hundred trainers out of Iraq. Canada said on Tuesday some of its 500 Iraq-based forces would be temporarily moved to Kuwait for safety reasons.

French President Emmanuel Macron, in a phone call on Tuesday to Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, urged Tehran to avoid any actions that could worsen regional tensions.

US officials have said Soleimani was killed because of solid intelligence indicating forces under his command planned attacks on US targets in the region, although they have provided no evidence.

Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, said 13 “revenge scenarios” were being considered, Fars news agency reported. Even the weakest option would prove “a historic nightmare for the Americans”, he said.