President Donald Trump on Wednesday said that no Americans were harmed in the attack by Iran on US bases in Iraq as he offered to embrace peace with the Iranian leadership, in a significant move to de-escalate spiralling tensions in the Middle East. The Iranian state television claimed that "at least 80 terrorist US soldiers" were killed in the strikes. Some 5,000 US soldiers are in Iraq as part of the international coalition against the IS terror group.
"We suffered no casualties. All of our soldiers are safe and only minimal damage was sustained at our military bases," Trump said in his 10-minute address to the nation from the White House Grand Foyer.
His remarks came hours after Iran launched 22 ballistic missiles in a pre-dawn attack on Wednesday targeting at least two bases where US military and coalition forces are stationed in Iraq, which Tehran said was a "slap in the face" of America.
According to the Iranian state TV, the attacks were in revenge for the killing of commander of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guards General Qasem Soleimani in a US drone strike on Friday, which was ordered by Trump.
Trump said Iran appeared to be standing down, which was a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world. He added that peace and stability cannot prevail in the Middle East as long as Iran continues to foment terrorism. Trump also asked NATO "to become much more involved in the Middle East process." He vowed that he will never allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.
Here are the top quotes from US president Donald Trump's address:
1. "As long as I'm President of the United States, Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon"
2. "By removing Soleimani we have sent a powerful message to terrorists. If you value your own life you will not threaten the lives of our people."
3. "Soleimani's hands were drenched in both American and Iranian blood. He should have been eliminated long ago."
4. "United States was ready to embrace peace with all who seek it".
5. "To the people and leaders of Iran, we want you to have a future and a great future, one that you deserve"
6. "Iran must abandon its nuclear ambitions and end its support for terrorism"
7. "For far too long, all the way back to 1979 to be exact, nations have tolerated Iran's destructive and destabilising behaviour in the Middle East and beyond. Those days are over"
8. "Your campaign of terror, murder, mayhem will not be tolerated any longer. It will not be allowed to go forward"
9. "We must also make a deal that allows Iran to thrive and prosper and take advantage of its enormous untapped potential. Iran can be a great country"
10. "We are now the number one producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world. We are independent, and we do not need Middle East oil"