US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday Iranian missile strikes on bases in Iraq had not harmed any US troops stationed there and the damage was minimal, an outcome he said showed Tehran wanted to de-escalate a standoff.
- Iranian missiles hit bases housing US troops in Iraq
- Tehran says attack retaliation for general’s killing
Iranian forces fired missiles at military bases housing US troops in Iraq early on Wednesday, saying it was in retaliation for the killing in a US drone strike of powerful Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani on Jan. 3.
“No Americans were harmed in last night’s attack by the Iranian regime. We suffered no casualties. All of our soldiers are safe and only minimal damage was sustained at our military bases,” Trump said in an address to the nation.
“Our great American forces are prepared for anything. Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world.”
As he spoke, the US president was flanked by Vice President Mike Pence, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and military officers.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who earlier on Wednesday addressed a gathering of Iranians chanting “Death to America”, said Iran’s attacks were a “slap on the face” of the United States and said U.S. troops should leave the region.
Tehran’s foreign minister said Iran took “proportionate measures” in self-defence and did not seek an escalation.
TRUMP FACING ELECTION THIS YEAR:
Trump’s reaction in the immediate aftermath of the attacks had been to say on Twitter that “All is well!” and that Washington was assessing the damage.
Trump’s early tweet and the comment by Iran’s foreign minister had acted to soothe some initial concerns about a wider war and calmed jittery financial markets.
US and European government sources said they believed Iran had deliberately sought to avoid US military casualties in its missile strikes to prevent an escalation.
Earlier on Wednesday, an Iranian army spokesman had denied “foreign media reports” suggesting there had been some kind of coordination between Iran and the United States before the attack to allow bases to be evacuated, Fars news agency said.
The US president, who was impeached last month and faces an election this year, had at the weekend threatened to target 52 Iranian sites if Iran retaliated for Soleimani’s killing.