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Iran targets US troops with missile strikes

Author: BBC | Published: Wednesday, January 8, 2020

At least two airbases housing US troops in Iraq have been hit by more than a dozen ballistic missiles, according to the US Department of Defence.

Iranian state TV says the attack is a retaliation after the country’s top commander Qasem Soleimani was killed in a drone strike in Baghdad, on the orders of US President Donald Trump.

The Pentagon says at least two sites were attacked, in Irbil and Al Asad.

It is unclear if there have been any casualties.

“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,” White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said the attack was in retaliation for the death of Soleimani on Friday.

“We are warning all American allies, who gave their bases to its terrorist army, that any territory that is the starting point of aggressive acts against Iran will be targeted,” it said via a statement carried by Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif later issued a statement on Twitter, claiming the attack was self-defence and denied seeking to escalate the situation into war.

The attacks took place hours after the burial of Soleimani. The second attack occurred in Irbil shortly after the first rockets hit Al Asad, Al Mayadeen TV said.

Earlier in the day, President Trump said a US withdrawal of troops from Iraq would be the worst thing for the country.

His comments came in the wake of a letter, which the US military said had been sent in error, to Iraq’s prime minister, apparently agreeing to a request by Iraqi MPs to pull troops out.

The US has around 5,000 troops in Iraq.

The UK foreign office told the BBC: “We are urgently working to establish the facts on the ground. Our first priority is the security of British personnel.”

The UK has put the Royal Navy and military helicopters on standby amid rising tensions in the Middle East, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said earlier.

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