Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) began its “fierce revenge” for the killing of its notorious general, Qassem Soleimani, by launching over a dozen ballistic missiles Tuesday at two military bases in Iraq where U.S troops are stationed. American officials say there were no reported casualties and the damage to the bases was minimal. Now Iran’s foreign minister is signaling that the country hopes for de-escalation, though Iran’s supreme leader is sending another message: the missile strikes are “not enough.”
“The fierce revenge by the Revolutionary Guards has begun,” the IRGC, a U.S.-designated terror organization, said in a statement Tuesday via a Telegram messaging app, as reported by The New York Times.
In a statement issued shortly after the attacks, the Pentagon provided some details on Iran’s strikes. “At approximately 5:30 p.m. (EST) on January 7, Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles against U.S. military and coalition forces in Iraq,” the Defense Department announced. “It is clear that these missiles were launched from Iran and targeted at least two Iraqi military bases hosting U.S. military and coalition personnel at Al-Assad and Irbil.”
According to Iraqi military officials, Iran fired a total of 22 missiles at two of the military bases in Iraq where U.S. personnel are stationed, the Times reported.
In its initial statement, the Pentagon underscored that the U.S. had taken “appropriate measures” to safeguard against just such an attack. “In recent days and in response to Iranian threats and actions, the Department of Defense has taken all appropriate measures to safeguard our personnel and partners,” the statement notes. “These bases have been on high alert due to indications that the Iranian regime planned to attack our forces and interests in the region.”
The measures taken to protect U.S. troops against attack appears to have been successful. “United States officials initially said there were no immediate indications of American casualties, and senior Iraqi officials later said that there were no American or Iraqi casualties in the strikes,” the Times reports.
With reports indicating that the damage from the IRCG’s “fierce revenge” was minimal, the question is what will Iran do next. As highlighted by Washington Examiner’s Jamie McIntyre, Iran’s foreign minister has strongly signaled that the country is seeking de-escalation.
“Iran took & concluded proportionate measures in self-defense under Article 51 of UN Charter targeting base from which cowardly armed attack against our citizens & senior officials were launched,” Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted after the attack Tuesday night. “We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression.”
Iran took & concluded proportionate measures in self-defense under Article 51 of UN Charter targeting base from which cowardly armed attack against our citizens & senior officials were launched.
We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) January 8, 2020
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has been engaged in bombastic rhetoric in recent days and was personally close with Soleimani, issued his own statement following the attacks that took a different tact than Zarif’s. Such strikes, Khamenei said in a tweet posted hours after Zarif’s statement, are “not enough,” suggesting that while Iran may not take further immediate military action, it will resort to other means to get its “fierce revenge” on the U.S.
The U.S. was “slapped last night, but such military actions are not enough,” Khameini tweeted early Wednesday. “The corruptive presence of the US in the region of West Asia must be stopped.”
They were slapped last night, but such military actions are not enough. #AlAssadBase
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) January 8, 2020