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07 Jan 2020 | 06:40 PM UTC

Iraq: Iran targets at least two bases hosting US forces in Iraq January 8 /update 12

US defense officials confirm that Iran targeted at least two military bases in Iraq hosting US troops, including in Ain Al-Asad and Erbil, on January 8; further strikes possible

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Event

The US Department of Defense confirmed that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) launched ballistic missiles targeting at least two bases in Iraq hosting US military personnel at approximately 01:30 (local time) on Wednesday, January 8. Initial reports indicate that over a dozen missiles hit the Ain Al-Asad Air Base (Anbar province) and in Erbil (Kurdistan region). No casualties were immediately reported but US officials said that damage assessments are currently underway. Following the initial air strikes, Iranian state TV claimed Tehran fired "tens" of surface-to-surface missiles at the base as revenge for the January 3 killing of Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani. Iranian media sources also later claimed that a second round of missiles has been fired but the reports are unconfirmed. Details are still emerging.

Additional Iranian attacks targeting facilities hosting US forces are possible over the near term; retaliatory US strikes are also possible on Iranian state and proxy targets in the region over the coming days.

Context

The US Department of Defense released a statement on January 3 claiming responsibility for an airstrike targeting and killing Qasem Soleimani, the commander of Iran's Quds Force, near Baghdad International Airport (BGW) the same day. According to the statement, Soleimani was "actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region." Notably, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), was also killed in the strike. The situation remains fluid.

Advice

Individuals in Iraq are advised to closely monitor developments, avoid the affected area and related demonstration sites, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments.

The security environment in Iraq remains complex. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to all travel.