Tehran launches Operation 'Martyr Soleimani': missiles on US targets in Iraq
According to the Iranian government, there are at least 80 dead. Washington excludes victims and President Trump tweets: " All is well!". At least 15 rockets headed for US bases in Erbil and Al Asad, west of Baghdad. In the event of further reprisals, Tehran threatens to hit Dubai, Haifa, Tel Aviv and in US territory.
Baghdad (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Tehran has carried out its first military response to the killing of Gen. Qasem Soleimani overnight. The Qods Force commander died in a drone raid by US forces on January 3 in Baghdad.
The operation started at 1.20 local time, the same time in which the death of the senior officer of the Islamic Republic took place. According to initial information, at least fifteen Iranian-produced Ghiam and Fateh rockets were launched against US targets in Iraq.
Iranian state television has given prominence to the attack, speaking of at least 80 "American terrorists" killed and the damage to helicopters and military equipment. However, no official and independent feedback was provided to confirm the financial statements.
In a statement, the office of the supreme leader, the great Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, says that the missile attack was the "weakest" response compared to the multiple alternatives on the table. One source talks about 100 possible targets.
The main objectives of the operation wanted by Tehran are two air bases hosting American troops: one in Erbil, in Iraqi Kurdistan, and the other in Al Asad, west of the capital. Iranian sources speak of about 15 missiles, while Baghdad reported at least 22.
US President Donald Trump immediately called a security council meeting and carefully followed all phases of the attack. At first the White House had announced a speech to the nation, only to cancel it. During the night, the Tycoon released a message via Twitter stating that there are no American victims - denying Tehran's claims, in the context of a conflict also in the media - and that " All is well!".
An official statement from the US presidency is scheduled for the next few hours. Administration sources, behind anonymity, stress that there are no American victims, but also in this case official communications are expected.
Meanwhile, the Iranian government is declaring the sucess of the operation, while adding that it does not want a larger-scale conflict and that missile raids "have effectively concluded" the response to the killing of Soleimani.
Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif says that "we will defend ourselves against any aggression, but we don't want a war". Iran, he continues, "promoted and concluded proportionate self-defense measures" by hitting the base from which a "cowardly" attack against our citizens and senior officials was launched.
In reference to Trump - who commented on the killing of Soleimani by posting a US flag - some Iranian leaders published images of Iranian flags. The tension therefore remains high in the area and American counterattacks against the Islamic Republic cannot be excluded. In this case Tehran has already threatened to target Dubai, Haifa and Tel Aviv as well as hitting the United States directly on its territory.
Finally, over 50 people died and 220 others were injured in the crush yesterday during the burial ceremony of General Qassem Soleimani in Kerman, his hometown in southeastern Iran. According to the Iranian state television station, which released the news, the ceremony was postponed.