This still image from an IRIB video shot on January 8, 2020, shows missiles launched from Iran against the US military base in Ain-al Assad in Iraq.
Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) says none of its missiles were intercepted during Wednesday’s heavy strike that targeted two US bases inside Iraq to avenge the United States’ assassination of its senior commander, Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani.
Shortly after the strikes, Iranian officials advised US commanders against embarking on any new military action, warning that a more crushing response will be awaiting them. They have been urging US forces to swiftly leave the region.
In a live televised speech on Wednesday, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei highlighted the need for the US military presence — the source of all corruption in the region — to come to an end.
“A slap was delivered last night, but what is important is that the seditious presence of America in the region should be ended,” Ayatollah Khamenei said on Wednesday.
Also speaking on Wednesday, Armed Forces Chief of Staff Major General Mohammad Baqeri called for the US armed forces to withdraw from the region immediately.
“The time has come for the evil rulers of the United States to withdraw their terrorist army forces as quickly as possible from the region.”
US officials have so far declined to release any information about the damage to their bases or casualties inflicted by the missile strikes.
The White House canceled a formal address to the Americans Tuesday night. Reacting to the attack in a Twitter post, President Donald Trump claimed “All is well.” He said an assessment of casualties and damage from the strikes was underway and that he would make a statement on Wednesday morning.
The reprisal was staged in the early hours of Wednesday, hitting Ain al-Assad Airbase in the western Iraqi province of Anbar and another outpost in Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region.
The attacks were launched at 1:20 a.m. local time, the exact moment the US military launched drone strikes on Friday that led to the martyrdom of General Soleimani, the commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC)’s Quds Force, and the second-in-command of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) anti-terror group, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, among others, in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.
The missiles were launched shortly before the burial of General Soleimani in his hometown Kerman, which came in the wake of days of enormous funeral processions held in several cities across Iran and neighboring Iraq.
General Soleimani was cooperating with the PMU and the Iraqi government against the most deadly terrorist outfits to ever afflict the region, including the Daesh Takfiri group.
The Islamic Republic has denounced the assassinations as “an act of state terrorism.”
Tehran had vowed vengeance for the blood of its commander, with Ayatollah Khamenei warning of a “harsh revenge” in a speech that followed the assassinations.
Iran hit ‘command center for US terror operations’
The IRGC’s Deputy Commander for Operations Brigadier General Abbas Nilforoushan, meanwhile, has confirmed that Iran’s missiles “precisely hit their intended targets.”
According to the official, even though intelligence showed that US forces across the region — including in the Ain al-Assad Airbase — had been on high alert and fully prepared prior to the strikes, they completely failed to intercept the missiles fired by the Corps.
They failed to even slightly divert the Corps’ ballistic missiles, he told Tasnim News Agency on Wednesday. “Not even by a few meters,” he said.
The base had in recent days turned into a depot for American arms and military equipment of all sorts, said the official, adding that the IRGC targeted Ain al-Assad because it was the headquarters “for planning and executing the US terrorist operations.”
“The IRGC managed to destroy the arrogance’s command center in the region,” he noted.
Nilforoushan further warned that any potential act of mischief by the enemy would be met with a “staggering, painful, crushing, and regret-inducing response.”
“Our response will go as far as getting even [with the enemy],” he added and cautioned the regional countries that whatever part of their soil that could be used by the aggressors already lies within the IRGC’s crosshairs.
Nilforoushan said the Islamic Republic was investigating Israel’s involvement in the assassination.
“The regime should know that none of its activities and contributions to the atrocity would escape our attention,” he said.
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