Iran fired over a dozen ballistic missiles targeting at least two American bases in response to the killing of its General Qasem Soleimani in a drone strike. (Photo Credit: Reuters)
Videos of Iranian ballistic missiles hitting two military bases housing US troops in Iraq are going viral. A video, which seems to be shot using a mobile phone, shows a streak of light coming from the sky and then hitting the ground and eventually turning into a ball of fire. Some people can be heard shouting after seeing the missiles in the sky. As soon as missiles hit the ground, these people can be seen running for cover.
Officials in Pentagon said they are "working on initial battle damage assessments" after "Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles against US military and coalition forces in Iraq." "It is clear that these missiles were launched from Iran and targeted at least two Iraqi military bases hosting US military and coalition personnel at Al-Assad and Irbil," the Pentagon said.
Meanwhile, the US aviation authority has prohibited its civil flight operators from using the airspace over Iraq, Iran, and the Gulf. Tensions between Tehran and the US escalated after the killing of Soleimani, commander of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guards, in a US drone strike, which was ordered by President Donald Trump, on Friday when he was leaving the Baghdad International Airport. The strike also killed the deputy chief of Iraq's powerful Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary force.
Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Khamenei vowed revenge against the killing of his general, saying "severe revenge awaits the criminals" behind the attack.
In a notification issued Tuesday night, the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) prohibited American civil aviation operators from operating in the airspace over Iraq, Iran, the waters of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.
FAA said that it has issued notices to airmen outlining flight restrictions that prohibit US civil aviation operators from flying in that airspace.
The aviation authority said it will continue to closely monitor events in the Middle East and that it is coordinating with its national security partners.
Earlier, President Donald Trump said that the US was prepared for any attack by Iran and justified his decision to kill Soleimani, saying, "Well, number one, I knew the past. His past was horrible."
"He (Soleimani) was a terrorist. He was so designated by president Obama, as you know, and he wasn't even supposed to be outside of his own country."
Soleimani's killing was the most dramatic escalation yet in spiralling tensions between Iran and the US, already hit by serious differences over Tehran's ambitious nuclear programme.
Soleimani was widely seen as the second most powerful figure in Iran behind the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. His Quds Force, an elite unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, reported directly to the Ayatollah Khamenei and he was hailed as a heroic national figure.
With PTI Inputs