Iranian forces fired 22 ballistic missiles at two Iraqi military bases that house U.S. and Iraqi troops early Wednesday morning, in what Iran described as revenge for the U.S. assassination of Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani at the Baghdad International Airport last week.
The missiles were launched from inside Iran. Iraq says Iran warned them ahead of the attacks, which struck the Al Asad Airbase in the western province of Anbar and a base near Erbil in northern Iraq. Senior Iraqi officials say there were no American or Iraqi casualties in the strikes.
This is Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif speaking after the missile attacks.
Javad Zarif: “Well, we have said very clearly that if the United States takes any further action, Iran will respond accordingly, and we will respond in a very harsh way, but proportionately. … Well, we did not start this process of escalation. The United States waged an economic war against Iran. The United States has to come to its senses.”
Only hours after the launch of the missiles, a Boeing 737 jet crashed shortly after takeoff from Tehran’s international airport, headed to the Ukrainian capital Kiev. The crash killed all 176 people on board, including 82 Iranians and 63 Canadians. Iranian media reported the crash was due to technical difficulties. The jet was a predecessor to Boeing’s flawed 737 MAX passenger jet, which has been grounded worldwide following two deadly crashes that killed 346 people.
Meanwhile, in Iraq, anti-government protesters are calling for demonstrations on January 10 to demand an end to political interference by the United States or Iran in Iraqi politics. Iraqi journalists are also reporting armed men attacked anti-government protesters in the southern city of Nasiriyah, opening fire and burning down tents at their protest encampment.
This all comes as the United States is deploying about 4,000 U.S. soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division based out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to Kuwait. This is military spouse Katie Fernandez.
Katie Fernandez: “So, the thought of my husband being on a plane to a war zone by the end of the day is — it’s shocking, even to us, even though it’s his job. Technically, this is not. It’s not the job that we’re used to. So, it is very sudden and unexpected and traumatic to the military families and the community here, because this is not something that we have seen, at least in the last 10 years or so.”
We’ll have more on the latest on the U.S., Iraq and Iran after headlines.