By Miriam Raftery
Rebecca Jefferis-Williamson contributed to this report
January 7, 2020 (San Diego) – The U.S. Department of Defense confirms that Iran has launched air attacks on two U.S. military bases in Iraq housing American and coalition forces. Over a dozen missiles launched from Iran targeted the Al Assad air base in Baghdad and a second base in Irbil.
ECM has obtained video sent by a source in Iraq who asked not to be identified for fear of retaliation. The source indicated the video was taken by an Iraqi national inside the Al Assad base during the attack. The same video appears on international media including Canada and England. A local translator in El Cajon told ECM panicked voices heard on the video are shouting “Watch out!” and “One God, one Allah,” a phrase spoken by Muslims when they believe death may be imminent.
There is no official word yet on casualties.
The attacks were in retaliation for the U.S. assassination of Iranian Major General Qassim Suleimani last week in Iraq, whom Defense Secretary Mark Esper has said was in Baghdad to coordinate attacks on U.S. forces and coalition partners. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said Suleimani posed a “imminent threat” to Americans, but neither Esper nor Pompeo provided specific evidence of the threat.
Critics have said the killing of the Iranian commander via a drone strike violated international law by targeting a sovereign nation’s military leadership.
Suleimani had been blamed for being behind prior deadly attacks by insurgents on American soldiers as well as people in Syria and elsewhere in the Mideast.
After tonight’s attacks on American bases in Iraq, President Donald Trump tweeted, “All is well.”
U.S. military bases and embassies around the world have been on high alert since the killing of Suleimani A funeral for Suleimani in his hometown, Kerman in Iran, reportedly drew millions of people, prompting a stampede in which 56 people died and over 200 were injured, the New York Times reports.
The leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Hossein Salami, vowed while in Kerman, “We will take revenge,” adding that Iran will “set ablaze” places where Americans are located.
Iran’s Parliament today passed a bill declaring the U.S. military’s top leadership to be “terrorists” subject to sanctions by Iran, the Iranian state media reported.
NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced a temporary halt to training in Iraq of soldiers fighting terrorists, the New York Times reports. NATO had around 500 soldiers doing the training. Some NATO countries including Canada, German and Croatia have announced withdrawal of troops from Iraq due to security concerns.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the top ranked Democrat in Congress, tweeted after the attacks that she is “closely monitoring the situation following bombings targeting U.S. troops in Iraq. We must ensure the safety of our servicemembers, including ending needless provocations from the Administration and demanding that Iran cease its violence.” She added that America and the world “cannot afford war.”
But Defense Secretary Esper stated, “We’re not seeking war with Iran. What happens next depends on them.”