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Iraq: We were informed of Iran’s strikes before they happened

January 9, 2020 at 12:10 pm

US Army Apache Longbow helicopters line the ramp at the airfield in Ein Al-Assad military base, Iraq, as seen on 7 January 2004 [SSGT Suzanne Jenkins, USAF]

Iran informed Iraq before striking the Ain Al-Assad Air Base with missiles on Tuesday evening, a military spokesperson for Iraq’s caretaker government said.

The statement clarified that “shortly after midnight on Wednesday 8/1/2020, we received an official verbal message by the Islamic Republic of Iran, informing us that the Iranian response to the assassination of the martyr Qassem Soleimani had begun or would start soon.”

The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) announced after midnight yesterday that its forces targeted the Ain Al-Assad Air Base, which hosts US soldiers in the Iraqi province of Anbar, with surface-to-surface missiles, in addition to the US base in Erbil, in the first Iranian response to Washington’s assassination of Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force, last Friday.

READ: US, Iran both appear to signal desire to avoid further conflict 

Soleimani and the deputy leader of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, as well as officers and elements of IRGC and the PMF were killed in an US air strike near Baghdad International Airport. This development has led to a major escalation between the United States and Iran, which are close allies of Baghdad, amid widespread concerns in Iraq that the country has turned into a battleground between Washington and Tehran.

The statement pointed out that the Iranians informed the Iraqi government that “the strikes will be limited to the locations of the US army in Iraq”, noting that “at the same time, the US side contacted us, while the missiles were falling”.

The statement added that caretaker Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi “has been following developments since the start of the attack until now and he is making the necessary internal and external contacts in an attempt to contain the situation and avoid the waging of an open war in which Iraq and the region will be the first victims.”