Iraq’s acting prime minister, Adil Abdul-Mahdi al-Muntafiki, said Wednesday that he received an “official oral message” from Iran to warn him of the start of attacks against Iraqi bases with a US presence, in response to the murder of the powerful Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani.
“We received an official oral message from Iran saying that the Iranian response to the murder of Soleimaní would begin shortly … and that the coup would be only in those places where US troops are in Iraq without specifying those places.” Abdul-Mahdi spokesman said in a statement posted online.
At the same time, the prime minister received a call “from the American side and the missiles were falling” on the bases of Ain al Asad in the province of Al Anbar (west) and Harir, just outside Erbil, capital of Iraqi Kurdistan (north).
Immediately, Abdelmahdi, who is also the head of the Iraqi Armed Forces, informed: “Iraqi military leaders to take the necessary precautions.”
The prime minister said that so far no human losses are known in the Iraqi ranks or among the forces of the international coalition led by Washington, in the framework of whose mission American troops are deployed in Iraq.
In the statement, Abdul-Mahdi said the government works to “prevent an escalation” and “any violation of Iraqi sovereignty,” and called for the containment of all parties and to act “with reason.”
Iranian forces have launched this morning more than a dozen ballistic missiles against the bases of Ain Al Asad and Erbil in Iraq, which house US troops, in retaliation for the murder of General Qasem Soleimani last Friday and promise strong reprisals if the US responds to the attack, which has resulted in no fatalities.
The Guardians of the Iranian Revolution have vindicated the attack, which they describe as the first step of the “hard revenge” for the murder of Soleimani. ” To the Great Satan, the cruel and arrogant regime of the United States, we warn that any other evil or violation or other measures will face a more painful and overwhelming response,” says the Guardians of the Revolution Corps in a statement posted on its website, which also and has warned the allied Arab countries of the US against allowing that country to use its territories to attack Iran.
The supreme leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, has assured that the attack “is not enough” and has indicated that it is necessary to expel the troops of that country from the region of the Middle East.
“They were slapped, but such military action is not enough, the corrupt presence of the US must end,” said the leader in a televised speech in the city of Qom after the Revolutionary Guard bombed the bases in Iraq in response to the murder of General Qasem Soleimani.
Under the name “Operation Martyr Soleimani“, the Revolutionary Guard fired 13 ballistic missiles against the aforementioned air base, located in the province of Al Anbar, in western Iraq. The attacks ended without American victims.
Trump: “Everything is fine”
After the bombing, US President Donald Trump met in the White House with the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, and Defense, Mark Esper, to analyze the situation. The meeting was joined by General Mark Milley, head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“Everything is fine,” Trump wrote today on his Twitter account. “We have the most powerful and well-equipped army anywhere in the world, by far,” added the president, who has announced an upcoming statement.
The US has between 5,000 and 6,000 military in Iraq, according to different estimates. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen visited the attacked Ain Al Asad base last November and served a Thanksgiving meal to some 150 US military. Trump also attended, along with his wife Melania, in December 2018 on a surprise visit that was not even informed by the Iraqi authorities “for security reasons.”
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has banned US commercial airlines from operating in the airspace of Iraq and Iran, and over Persian and Oman gulfs.
In a statement, the federal agency that regulates civil aviation in the US issued a “notice to airmen” (NOTAM) to report the restriction.
The attack comes after Soleimani’s massive funeral in his hometown of Kerman and after Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei promised a “hard revenge” against Washington for the assassination of the general who for two decades cemented Iranian influence in the Middle East , from Iraq to Lebanon or Yemen.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has said that the attack is a proportionate measure and that Iran is not seeking a war. “Iran carried out and concluded measures provided in self-defence under Article 51 of the UN Charter attacking a base from which a cowardly armed attack was launched against our citizens and senior officials,” he also said on Twitter.
The chief of the General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Mohammad Bagheri, warned the United States that if he carries out any reprisal action for the attack on the military base in Iraq, Iran’s response will be “stronger and more overwhelming.” This is, he added, “only a small sample of the capabilities of the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic.” “From now on, any new US evil act will face a stronger and more overwhelming response and with a broader range,” added the Iranian general, quoted by the Tasnim agency.
Bagheri also stressed that the time has come for the US authorities “to realize Iran’s capabilities and withdraw the forces of its terrorist army from the region as soon as possible.”