Iran Foreign Minister Says Iran Acted in ‘Self-Defense’ by Firing Missiles at US Troops

January 7, 2020 Updated: January 8, 2020

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif wrote that Iran on Tuesday, Jan. 7, took appropriate measures when it fired missiles at two Iraqi bases overnight in response to the U.S. drone strike that killed top Iranian Gen. Qassam Soleimani.

“Iran took [and] 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,” he wrote on Twitter on Tuesday night.

Tehran, he claimed, is not seeking any war or escalation of the conflict.

According to the United Nations’ Article 51, a member state can defend itself following an armed attack until the Security Council steps in. However, such a claim is likely to be disputed by White House officials, who have said that Soleimani already was responsible for the deaths of dozens of Americans and was plotting attacks on American soldiers, diplomats, and facilities in the near future.

On Tuesday evening, the Department of Defense confirmed that Iran launched more than a dozen missiles at the Al Asad base in Iraq, which houses American soldiers, and the base in Irbil.

“We are working on initial battle damage assessments. 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. These bases have been on high alert due to indications that the Iranian regime planned to attack our forces and interests in the region. As we evaluate the situation and our response, we will take all necessary measures to protect and defend U.S. personnel, partners, and allies in the region. Due to the dynamic nature of the situation, we will continue to provide updates as they become available,” the Pentagon said in a statement.

Qassim Soleimani
Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani attends a meeting with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Revolutionary Guard commanders in Tehran, Iran, on Sept. 18, 2016. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)

Before that, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which Soleimani headed, took responsibility for the missile attack—and not an Iranian proxy in Iraq or a Tehran-backed group such as Hezbollah or the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

The Guard Corps said in a statement via state media: “In Operation Martyr Suleimani in early hours of Wednesday, tens of ground-to-ground missiles were fired at the U.S. base and successfully pounded the al Asad base.”

Later, Iranian state news outlet Press TV carried a statement from the Guards that warned allies of the United States to cut ties or face the consequences.

“We warn U.S. allies providing bases for the [American] terrorist army … that any country serving as the origin of bellicose and aggressive attacks in any form against the Islamic Republic of Iran will be targeted,” the statement said.

President Donald Trump was briefed about the attacks on the military bases, but he didn’t say how Washington would respond.

“All is well! Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq. Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good! We have the most powerful and well-equipped military anywhere in the world, by far! I will be making a statement tomorrow morning,” he wrote on Twitter.

The missile attack comes days after Iran’s top leadership, including Zarif, Ayatollah Khamenei, and a slew of high-ranking military officials, vowed for revenge after Soleimani’s death. Funeral services were held for the commander on Monday and Tuesday.