by Carla Babb
PENTAGON – Iran has fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles into at least two Iraqi air bases that house U.S. troops, the Pentagon says.
VOA correspondent Carla Babb broke the story late Tuesday when she was told the al-Asad air base was hit by rocket fire. The Pentagon later said the Irbil air base was also targeted and struck by ballistic missiles. There were conflicting reports that Camp Taji, about 27 kilometers north of Baghdad, was also struck.
A spokesman says it is “clear” the missiles were fired from Iran.
Iran’s Islamic revolutionary Guard Corps sent out a statement hailing what it says was a successful missile attack on Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops, calling it “revenge for the assassination and martyrdom of Qassem Soleimani,” commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force.
There is no word of damage or casualties at the air bases, but the Pentagon says it is working on “initial battle damage assessments.”
An Iraqi security source told CNN that there are casualties among the Iraqis at al-Asad air base following the attack; however, it is not known whether those causalities are wounded or killed.
The White House says U.S. President Donald Trump has been briefed and is consulting with his national security team. Both Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper have arrived at the White House.
Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told CNN that “The President and his crew better figure out a way to tone things down, because we could be in the midst of a full-blown war.”
“What we have to do now is tone down the rhetoric on all sides and extricate ourselves from this situation,” he added.
U.S. forces have been on high alert since Iran threatened to strike back after last week’s targeted killing of Soleimani.
“We will take all necessary measures to protect and defend U.S. personnel, partners, and allies in the region,” the Pentagon spokesman said.
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Carla Babb is the Penatagon Correspondent for Voice of America. Jeff Seldin contributed to this report.