American President Donald Trump says the United States did not have to necessarily answer Iran's attack on American bases in Iraq.
Speaking at the White House Wednesday, Trump said, "No Americans were harmed in last night's attack by the Iranian regime... All of our soldiers are safe and only minimal damage was sustained at our military bases."
The president added, "Our great American forces are prepared for anything. Iran appears to be standing down." Trump also said that the U.S. will place more economic sanctions on Iran.
Iran fired missiles at U.S. airbases
Trump's comment came after Iran fired 15 missiles at two airbases that house U.S. soldiers in Iraq. U.S. military officials said al-Asad and Erbil were targeted early on Wednesday.
The missile attacks were in answer to the U.S. killing of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani last week in Iraq.
Iranian government media said the attacks killed 80 "American terrorists" and damaged U.S. helicopters and military equipment. Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called the attacks a "slap on the face" of the U.S. and said American troops should leave the area.
Iran's foreign minister said the country's attacks were in self-defense and that Iran did not seek to increase hostilities.
The Associated Press reported that Iran appeared to have warned about the strikes. Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi said Iran told him that the missile attacks "would start soon" and would target only on U.S. positions. The militaries of Finland and Lithuania also said they received information about a coming attack and had time to move to shelters or leave the base.
Henry Rome is an Iran expert with Eurasia Group. He told the AP the attacks appeared designed to avoid human injury and any increase in hostilities.
"For a president who wants to avoid a war in the Middle East during an election year, the Iranians have provided an off-ramp he will likely take," Rome said. Trump, who is facing reelection in November, has repeatedly said he wants to keep the U.S. from involving itself in "endless war."
Tensions between U.S. and Iran
Tensions between the U.S. and Iran have increased since Trump's 2018 decision to withdraw the U.S. from Iran's nuclear deal with world powers.
Last year, Iran shot down a U.S. military drone, seized several oil tankers and interfered with international ship traffic in the Strait of Hormuz. The U.S. also blamed Iran for a September missile attack on a large Saudi Arabian oil processing center.
Recently, a large group of protesters attacked the outer edge of the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. The embassy attack followed U.S. airstrikes that killed 25 Kataeb Hezbollah fighters, an Iranian-supported militia which operates in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. said it acted to answer the killing of an American defense contractor in Iraq.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke to the Iranian cabinet after the strikes on American bases. He said, "if America commits a crime, no matter how much she threatens us, she must know that we will act decisively as we have already shown."
I'm Ashley Thompson.