“We received an official verbal message from the Islamic Republic of Iran that the Iranian response to the assassination of Qassem Soleimani had begun or would begin shortly, and that the strike would be limited to where the US military was located in Iraq without specifying the locations,” Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi’s office said in a statement, reported the AFP news agency.
His office said it was contacted by the United States at the same time. It came as missiles hit the Ain al-Asad military base in western Iraq and another base in the north.
Iran launched more than a dozen missiles at Iraqi bases housing U.S. and other coalition troops late on Tuesday after an American drone strike killed Soleimani, a top Revolutionary Guards commander, last week in Baghdad.
“We immediately warned Iraqi military commanders to take the necessary precautions,” Mahdi’s office added.
He said no Iraqi forces were hurt or killed in the attack. “Iraq rejects any violation of its sovereignty and attacks on its territory,” the premier’s office also said, but didn’t elaborate.
It’s not clear yet if any American soldiers were harmed, but President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter after the missile incident that “all is well” before saying he would provide an update on Wednesday morning.
Mahdi is now in talks with domestic and foreign nations to prevent a war, said his office.
The Revolutionary Guards claimed responsibility for the missile attack, while the Pentagon also confirmed that about “a dozen” missiles were launched from Iran.
Hours later, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said the United States got “a slap in the face last night” and called for U.S. forces to leave the region
“What is important is that the corruptive presence of the U.S. in this region must end,” he said, according to state-run news outlets. “They (Americans) have brought war, discord, sedition, and destruction to this region; they brought about destruction of infrastructures,” Khamenei said.
However, top U.S. officials, including Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, said Soleimani had been planning imminent attacks on American forces, diplomats, and facilities. President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, meanwhile, have both said Washington isn’t looking to start a war with Iran or facilitate regime change.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also wrote on Twitter that Iran carried out the missile strikes in self-defense, a claim that is likely to be disputed by Pompeo and other American brass.
“We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression,” he said on the social media website.