Retaliation from Iran was expected and the launch of ballistic missiles targeting U.S. military bases in Iraq did not come as a surprise. The two targets were the Asad Air Base in western Iraq and the Erbil base in the Kurdish-governed north. These house a combination of Iraqi and U.S. forces and were already on high alert. It was in anticipation of retaliatory action from Tehran over the death of Qassem Suleimani who fell to a drone strike in Baghdad. The Pentagon confirmed the attack but did not make any mention of casualties.

Spokesman Jonathan Hoffman indicated there was no immediate response from the U.S. military, nor any official statement from US President Donald Trump on exact damage and casualties. The spokesman assured that "we will take all necessary measures to protect and defend U.S. personnel, partners and allies in the region.”

Los Angeles Times quotes an expert in Muslim politics who says that if there are no casualties, the United States might not respond and escalate the issue. The local state-run television showed the launch of two sets of missiles and described them as the beginning of “harsh Iranian revenge” for the death of Qassem Suleimani.

The U.S. has a good presence in the region

The Pentagon says there is an impressive strength of US troops in the region.

They are equipped with adequate military hardware to tackle any threat. The missiles launched by Iran might not have led to extensive damage because both the bases are vast and the projectiles might not have caused any appreciable damage. That is the thinking of James Carafano, a foreign policy expert.

Los Angeles Times says this missile attack is probably a first for Iran as it attacked the US directly.

Until now, Iranian-backed militias used to carry out such attacks and this would be a first for Iranian security forces. The reason was the killing of Suleimani, one of Iran’s most powerful military commanders, in a drone attack authorized by Donald Trump.

The sparring game begins

According to Sky News, Tehran says that its attack on US targets in Iraq was the "first step." It has warned that American troops will be at the receiving end and feel the heat.

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The State TV quotes an official saying President Donald Trump should take a decision on the withdrawal of US troops “… and not to leave them within our reach." The Revolutionary Guard aerospace division had launched the missiles.

The Guards have cautioned all American allies that they could be possible targets. The civil aviation authorities imposed a ban on US carriers from operating in the airspace of the region that covers Iraq, Iran, the Gulf of Oman and the waters between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Incidentally, American forces first used the Al Asad airbase in Iraq after the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein. Subsequently, they remained there to wage a war against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

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