Iranian forces launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles against two military bases in Iraq in the early hours of the morning local time on Wednesday, marking the most significant Iranian attack in the growing conflict with the United States. The al-Asad air base in western Iraq, which houses some American troops, was hit by at least six missiles, according to a U.S. defense official familiar with the situation. In a tweet late Tuesday, President Trump proclaimed "All is well!" and vowed to address the nation on the situation Wednesday morning.
The Iranian foreign minister said on Wednesday that his country had "concluded" its attacks on American forces and did "not seek escalation or war" after firing more than 20 ballistic missiles at two military bases in Iraq where United States troops are stationed. The minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, posted the remarks on Twitter after Iran had conducted the strikes in response to the killing of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, a leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. Senior Iraqi defense officials who work with the United States command said that no Americans or Iraqis had been killed in the attacks.
Iran's targeted missile strikes on U.S. bases in Iraq appear to be carefully calibrated to appease growing anger at home while providing President Donald Trump with a chance to avoid a war that could devastate the region. While it wasn't immediately clear whether the missiles led to fatalities, both Iran and Trump left the door open for lowering tensions after the Islamic Republic's retaliation for the killing of General Qassem Soleimani last week. Foreign minister Javad Zarif said Iran had "concluded proportionate measures" and didn't seek war, while Trump tweeted "All is well!"
UANI IN THE NEWS
Iranian missile attacks on two joint U.S.-Iraqi military bases Wednesday morning didn't kill or injure any Americans, according to initial reports - and that appears to have been a deliberate move by Iran to avoid a retaliatory strike by U.S. forces. Iran had to strike back at the U.S. in some way after an American drone attack ordered by President Trump killed Iranian terrorist Gen. Qassem Soleimani and other terrorists Friday morning in Iraq. But the leaders of the Iranian regime are smart enough to know that if they had killed Americans in their retaliatory attack, Trump would have responded with deadly force.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
With hostility between Iran and the U.S. running high and Tehran vowing to backtrack on its commitment to the 2015 international nuclear deal, questions have arisen over whether European nations will stand by the pact, or side with the U.S. The EU has attracted criticism for its slow response to the crisis that erupted last week following the U.S. airstrike on Baghdad that killed Iran's top military commander Qassem Soleimani, prompting public and political outrage in Iran.
The European Union said Wednesday it "will spare no efforts" in its attempts to keep alive an international deal preventing Iran from developing atomic weapons. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said her foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell will continue to work "in the midterm" to reach out to all participants in the global deal in the hopes that the 2015 nuclear agreement can still be saved despite a rollback on commitments from Tehran.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a phone call that Iran must comply with the terms of the nuclear deal agreed with major powers and cannot be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon. Iran said on Sunday it was taking a further step back from its commitments to abandon limits on enriching uranium after Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander Qassem Soleimani was killed by a US drone strike in Iraq.
The United States and Iran are locked in a tense and dangerous standoff following President Trump's decision to kill Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani. But while the Iranian regime plots its revenge, its parallel effort to expand its nuclear program could be the spark that ignites a broader conflict. Iranian officials are now openly threatening to target U.S. assets in the Middle East in response to the Soleimani killing. On Saturday, Trump threatened to attack 52 Iranian sites "if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets."
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
Following an escalation of the conflict in the Middle East on Tuesday, after Iran launched missiles at bases where American military personnel were stationed, President Trump and his administration could respond by exercising their economic options. A powerful move may include increasing sanctions on the rogue regime. During an interview with FOX Business' Trish Regan, Retired Lt. Gen. William Boykin, a former Delta Force member, said a ramp-up of sanctions is likely to be the first step.
Tanker operators don't expect their ships to be targeted in the near term amid the growing tensions between the U.S. and Iran as daily freight and insurance rates hold steady in a critical region for global oil transport. "The Middle East is like a powder keg, but we don't expect any attacks on tankers, at least for now," said an executive at a Europe-based operator of more than two dozen tankers. "We've had some verbal assurances [from Iran] that ships won't be hit, so we keep our fingers crossed."
Oil prices would skyrocket if Iran moved to completely cut off the Strait of Hormuz, energy analysts told CNBC on Wednesday. Elevated geopolitical tensions have sparked fears of a widening conflict in the Middle East, with energy market participants increasingly concerned that the fallout could soon disrupt regional crude supplies. It has thrust the world's most important oil chokepoint back into the global spotlight.
Iran has hundreds of short- and medium-range ballistic missiles which it has been developing since the 1980s based on Soviet, North Korean and Chinese components. It says it has limited the maximum range of those missiles to 2000 kilometers and hasn't tested any yet that go beyond that range. However, experts say Iran is working on technologies that could eventually open the way for it to develop long-range missiles, including intercontinental ones that could reach the U.S.
When a swarm of drones and cruise missiles attacked Saudi Arabia's biggest oil facility on Sept. 14, an outraged Trump administration quickly blamed Iran for what it called an "unprecedented attack" on global energy supplies. But the real surprise was the strike's accuracy: Of 19 weapons used, all but two scored direct hits. When the smoke cleared, Saudi officials counted 14 holes where incoming projectiles had sliced through petroleum storage tanks.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
A researcher with dual French-Iranian nationality held for months in a notorious Tehran prison will not be tried on espionage charges, her lawyer said Tuesday. But she and another French researcher still face other security-related charges. Iranian prosecutors dropped the spying charges against Fariba Adelkhah after an hours-long hearing, Saeid Dehghan told The Associated Press. Both Adelkhah and Roland Marchal will remain in custody on charges of spreading propaganda, their lawyer said.
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
Several major airlines said on Wednesday they were re-routing flights to avoid airspace over Iraq and Iran after the Federal Aviation Administration banned U.S. carriers from the area following an Iranian missile attack on U.S.-led forces in Iraq. Iran fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles from its territory at at least two Iraqi military bases hosting U.S.-led coalition personnel early on Wednesday, the U.S. military said.
Iran is not seeking escalation or war, Iranian Foreign Minister tweeted after Tehran hit U.S. targets in Iraq on Wednesday, adding that Tehran would defend itself 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," Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted.
Any U.S retaliation to Iran's missile attacks on American targets in Iraq could lead to an all-out war in the Middle East, an adviser to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani tweeted on Wednesday. "Any adverse military action by the US will be met with an all out war across the region. The Saudis, however, could take a different path - they could have total peace!" Hessameddin Ashena said in a statement on Twitter.
After Iran launched missile attacks on U.S. targets in Iraq, the country's telecommunication minister tweeted: "Get the hell out of our region" in Iran's first official reaction to the attacks. Iran said it launched missile attacks on U.S.-led forces in Iraq in the early hours of Wednesday in retaliation for the U.S. drone strike killing Iran's Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani.
President Donald Trump faces one of the greatest tests of his presidency after Iran launched ballistic missiles at Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops. It was Iran's most brazen direct assault on America since the 1979 seizing of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. The strikes pushed Tehran and Washington perilously close to war and put the world's attention on Trump as he weighs whether to respond with more military force. The Republican president huddled with his national security advisers on Tuesday night but offered no immediate indication of whether he would retaliate.
President Donald Trump's national security team knew that killing Iran's most powerful general could hurt efforts to mop up and head off any revival of the Islamic State militant group - and that is just what has happened. Two days after Gen. Qassem Soleimani was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Baghdad, the U.S. troops in Iraq to fight the Islamic State are now focused on their own defense, guarding American bases and the U.S. Embassy from an expected Iranian response.
In the wake of the U.S. drone killing of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, America's allies in the region-nations that have long pushed for a tougher American stance on Iran-are keeping a low profile, fearing they will be hit by the fallout. The concern was heightened early Wednesday local time after Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two bases in Iraq where American troops are based. The Gulf monarchies of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar, all of which also house U.S. military personnel and installations, similarly lie within easy reach of Iran's huge missile arsenal.
U.S. forces and their Western allies in the Middle East took swift steps to bolster their defenses in the days before a retaliatory attack by Iran in response to last week's American drone strike that killed a top Iranian commander. Early Wednesday local time, Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two bases in Iraq where American troops are based, Erbil in northern Iraq and the large Al Asad base in western Iraq, the Pentagon said. There was no initial indication of any casualties.
Iran's parliament reportedly passed legislation on Tuesday designating the U.S. military and the Pentagon as terrorist organizations after the drone strike that killed Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani last week in Baghdad. The legislation was approved unanimously by 223 lawmakers, Iranian state media reported, according to USA Today. The move comes after the country's Supreme National Security Council designated U.S. Central Command, the U.S. military's Middle East command unit, a terrorist group last year.
MILITARY/INTELLIGENCE MATTERS & PROXY WARS
US forces and air-defense missile batteries across the Middle East were placed on high alert overnight Monday to possibly shoot down Iranian drones as intelligence mounted about a threat of an imminent attack against US targets, two US officials told CNN. On Tuesday night, Iran launched more than a dozen missiles at two Iraqi bases that host US troops in what appears to be an act of retaliation. The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, an elite wing of the Iranian military known as the IRGC, said in a statement that the attacks were "hard revenge" for the death of Soleimani.
Iran's launching of more than a dozen missiles at American-led forces in Iraq on Wednesday came after years of preparing for a confrontation with its superpower foe, whose forces are vastly larger and more advanced. The Gulf country has more than 500,000 active-duty personnel, including 125,000 members of its elite Revolutionary Guards, according to a report last year by the International Institute for Strategic Studies. But international sanctions and restrictions on arms imports have made it hard for Iran to develop or buy more sophisticated weaponry.
IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS
A stampede at the funeral for slain Iranian general Qasem Soleimani killed 56 people on Tuesday and injured more than 200, the Iranian news agency reported, delaying the massive procession for several hours before he was buried in his home city of Kerman. Soleimani's coffin was transported atop a blue float draped with oversize flower wreaths and photographs, and hugged by many in the black-clad crowd on the route. Hundreds of thousands marched alongside, waving Iranian flags and black mourning banners in memory of the powerful Quds Force commander killed in a U.S. drone strike in Baghdad last week.
CONGRESS & IRAN
House progressives on Tuesday called for votes on legislation to block funding for military action against Iran and on repealing the 2002 authorization of military force that would go beyond an expected vote this week to limit President Trump's actions in the country. Freshman Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.), a former CIA and Pentagon analyst who served multiple tours in Iraq and represents a competitive district, is expected to lead a still-unreleased resolution stating that the Trump administration's military hostilities with Iran must cease within 30 days if no further congressional action is taken.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
The assassination of Iranian Quds Force commander Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani by a US strike in Baghdad has already pushed the Middle East toward a new, higher phase of tensions. While Iranian officials are repeatedly talking about a "hard revenge" against the United States, US President Donald Trump has threatened that any retaliatory move by the Islamic Republic would result in an American attack against 52 sites inside Iran, "some at a very high level and important to Iran and the Iranian culture."
IRAQ & IRAN
Iran on Wednesday fired missiles at airbases jointly used by the U.S. and Iraq in retaliation for the killing of General Qassem Soleimani, roiling financial markets and disrupting air and tanker traffic. Retribution had been expected for the deadly drone strike last week, but Iraq said it had received verbal notice from the Iranians prior to the strikes and there appeared to be no casualties.
Early Sunday morning, Sarkawt Shams, a Kurdish member of the Iraqi parliament, received a text on his phone from the political bureau of the Kataib Hezbollah militia, which had just lost its leader to a U.S. drone strike. The parliament was due to vote on whether to expel U.S. troops from Iraq following the U.S. assassination of the Shiite militia leader, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, and his ally Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Suleimani early Friday morning.
AFGHANISTAN & IRAN
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday accused Iran of working to thwart efforts to bring peace to Afghanistan, but he offered no specific details to support his allegation. Pompeo leveled his charge amid an escalating crisis with Iran following a U.S. drone strike on Friday in Iraq that killed General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran's elite foreign paramilitary and espionage service, the Quds Force.
Americans should be on heightened alert for cyberattacks after Iran fired more than a dozen missiles at two military bases in Iraq where U.S. troops are stationed late Tuesday, security researchers say. Iran could target private businesses and government infrastructure to avenge last week's killing of its top military commander as tensions between Tehran and Washington reach one of their highest points since the 1979 Iranian revolution.
In the aftermath of the American killing of Iran's top general, Qassim Suleimani, and Iranian retaliation Tuesday against American personnel in Iraq, many are wondering what role cyberwarfare will play. Cyberattacks certainly complicate things. A country that might not be able to attack the United States with an aircraft, missile or submarine can use a cyberattack to strike targets on American soil. And as the most common targets are civilian - electrical grids, hospitals, water supplies, transportation infrastructure - cyberwarfare disproportionately threatens citizens, linking American foreign policy with the everyday lives of ordinary Americans.
A Ukraine International Airlines jetliner crashed shortly after takeoff from Tehran on Wednesday, killing all 176 passengers and crew members on board. The Boeing Co. 737-800 single-aisle jet crashed after departing the Iranian capital's Imam Khomeini International Airport en route to Kyiv, with photos of the crash site showing thousands of pieces of scattered and charred debris.