Iran on Wednesday launched a missile attack on an Iraqi airbase where U.S. forces are based , threatening "more crushing responses" if Washington carried out further strikes, Iranian state media said.
It said the missiles were in response to a U.S. strike last week that killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi top commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
Here are the latest updates:
Trump avoids escalating crisis, says Iran is 'standing down'
U.S. President Donald Trump on January 8 backed away from days of angry rhetoric against Iran as the two countries tried to defuse a crisis over the American killing of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani.
In an address from the White House, Mr. Trump said the United States did not necessarily have to respond militarily to Iranian missile attacks on military bases housing U.S. troops in Iraq overnight.
He said no Americans were harmed in the strikes.
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemns Iranian attack on military bases in Iraq
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned on Wednesday the attack by Iran on military bases in Iraq housing western troops in retaliation for the U.S. killing of an Iranian general.
“We of course condemn the attack on Iraqi military bases hosting coalition forces. Iran should not repeat these reckless and dangerous attacks but must instead pursue urgent de-escalation,” Mr. Johnson told Parliament. — Reuters
Kuwait says report of U.S. troop withdrawal from country incorrect, KUNA agency hacked
Kuwait's government said on Wednesday state news agency KUNA had been hacked and this had resulted in an incorrect report being issued saying U.S. military forces in Kuwait would be withdrawn imminently.
Tareq al-Muzarem, head of Kuwait's government communication office, announced the hacking of KUNA in a statement on an official Twitter account.
KUNA said the incorrect U.S. troop withdrawal report, which appeared on KUNA's Twitter feed, did not originate from the agency and was the result of a hacking. It did not say who might be to blame.
The initial report had said Kuwait's Defence Minister had received a letter from a U.S. commander saying American forces would be withdrawn from a camp in Kuwait in three days.
Iranian forces fired missiles at military bases housing U.S. troops in Iraq on Wednesday in retaliation for the U.S. killing of an Iranian general, raising the stakes in its conflict with Washington amid concern of a wider war in the Middle East. — Reuters
Iraqi PM received word from Iran about missile attack
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi received word from Iran that its response to the U.S. killing of its top general was either imminent or under way, his spokesman said on January 8.
“Shortly after midnight on Wednesday we received a verbal message from the Islamic Republic of Iran that the Iranian response to the assassination of the martyr Qassem Soleimani had started or was about to start,” his spokesman said.
Tehran told Mr. Abdul Mahdi it would only target locations where U.S. forces were present but did not specify the locations, the spokesman said in a statement.
Abdul Mahdi received a call from the United States while missiles were falling on the American wing of the air base in Anbar Province and an air base in Erbil, the spokesman said.
There have been no reports of casualties from either the Iraqi military or the U.S.-led coalition, he said. — Reuters
Commercial airlines reroute flights amid U.S.-Iran tensions
Commercial airlines on Wednesday rerouted flights crossing the Middle East to avoid possible danger amid escalating tensions between the United States and Iran.
The flight restrictions reflected fears that the conflict between the longtime foes could ratchet up following Iranian ballistic missile strikes Tuesday on two Iraqi bases that house U.S. troops. Those strikes were retaliation for the U.S. killing of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike near Baghdad last week.
Paris-based Air France said it had suspended all flights over Iran and Iraq airspace indefinitely.
Australian carrier Qantas said it was altering its London to Perth, Australia, route to avoid Iran and Iraq airspace until further notice. The longer route meant that Qantas would have to carry fewer passengers and more fuel to remain in the air for an extra 40 to 50 minutes.
Malaysia Airlines said that “due to recent events,” its planes would avoid Iranian airspace.
Singapore Airlines also said that its flights to Europe would be re-routed to avoid Iran.
Iran says missile attacks on U.S. targets were “legitimate self-defence”
Iran's missile attacks on U.S. targets in Iraq on Wednesday were “legitimate self-defence”, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told state TV, adding that Washington's assessment to retaliate should not be based on “illusions”.
“Our action was a legitimate self-defence and the United States should avoid assessing it based on illusions,” Mr. Zarif said.
Saudi Aramco hits new low on U.S.-Iran tensions
Shares of Saudi Aramco opened at 34 riyals ($9.06) on Wednesday, their lowest level since the oil giant began trading on December 11, after Iran launched missiles on U.S. targets in Iraq.
Saudi stocks also dropped 1.4%, following across-the-board selling in Gulf markets amid escalating tensions between the United States and Iran.
Aramco shares are down about 12% from a peak of 38.70 riyals on Dec. 12, but still above the IPO price of 32 riyals that valued the company at $1.7 trillion. - Reuters
Iran's Supreme Leader tells U.S. to leave the region
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday the United States should withdraw from the region and said Tehran's missile attacks on U.S. targets in Iraq were “a slap on the face” for America.
“Military action like this is not sufficient. What is important is ending the corrupting presence of America in the region,” Mr. Khamenei said in a televised speech, ruling out any resumption of talks with Washington about the 2015 nuclear deal.
Mr. Khamenei also said the United States was trying to remove Lebanon's Iranian-aligned movement Hezbollah in its bid to help Israel.
Iraq military says no Iraqi casualties as 22 missiles hit bases
"Between 1:45 am and 2:15 am (2245 GMT and 2315 GMT) Iraq was hit by 22 missiles, 17 on the Ain al-Asad air base and ... five on the city of Arbil," the Iraqi military said. "There were no victims among the Iraqi forces," it added, but did not mention whether or not there were casualties among foreign troops.
Iran will welcome any Indian peace initiative for de-escalating its tensions with US: Iranian Envoy
Iran will welcome any peace initiative by India for de-escalating its tensions with the U.S. after the killing of Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani, the Iranian envoy here said on Wednesday.
His comments come hours after Iran launched missile strikes against two U.S. military bases in Iraq in retaliation to the killing of its top commander General Qassem Soleimani.
“India usually plays very good role in (maintaining) peace in the world. At the same time India belongs to this region. We welcome all initiatives from all countries, especially India as a good friend for us, to not allow escalation (of tensions),” Iranian Ambassador to India Ali Chegeni told reporters after a condolence meeting for Solemani at the country’s embassy here.
“We are not for war, we are looking for peace and prosperity for everybody in this region. We welcome any Indian initiative or any project that can help peace and prosperity in this world,” he said.
On the Iranian attack on US targets in Iraq, Chegeni said his country retaliated under its right to defend. - PTI
Philippines orders evacuation of Filipinos from Iraq
The Philippine government said Wednesday that it has ordered the mandatory evacuation of Filipino workers from Iraq and the coast guard said it is sending a vessel to the Middle East to ferry its citizens to safety in case hostilities between the United States and Iran worsen.
The Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila said the government has raised the alert level in Iraq to the highest level, requiring Filipinos to leave the country due to escalating security risks.
Filipinos can leave on their own or escorted out with the help of their employers or the Philippine government. - AP
Analysis: What is next in Iran-U.S. conflict?
Five days after Major General Qassem Soleimani, the Quds Force chief, was killed in a U.S. air strike outside Baghdad airport , Iran on Wednesday launched ballistic missile attacks at American troops in two military bases in Iraq.
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has said that the attacks on the Erbil and Al-Asad bases were a retaliation for the killing of the General, who was one of the top military leaders of the country and the main architect of Iran’s foreign security and intelligence operations. Initial reports suggest that there are no American casualties, though damage and military assessments are still under way. Whether there were American casualties or not, this is a pivotal moment in the U.S.-Iran tensions as this is the first time Iran is launching a direct attack at the U.S. troops and owning it up.
Iranian president to make speech after strikes on U.S. targets
Iran's president will deliver a speech to the nation, Iranian state television said after Tehran launched missile strikes on U.S. targets in Iraq.
It did not give a timing for the speech by President Hassan Rouhani. - Reuters
UAE energy minister sees no immediate risk to oil flow through Strait of Hormuz
The energy minister of the United Arab Emirates said he saw no immediate risk to oil travelling through the vital gateway of the Strait of Hormuz after Iran attacked bases housing U.S. forces in Iraq.
The situation is not a war, and what is happening now should not be exaggerated, Suhail al-Mazrouei said on the sidelines of a conference in Abu Dhabi, the UAE capital.
“We will not see a war,” he added. “This is definitely an escalation between the United States, which is an ally, and Iran, which is a neighbour, and the last thing we want is more tension in the Middle East.”
Mr. Mazrouei said he saw no situation to provoke a fear of supply shortage, with demand healthy and global oil inventories hovering around the 5-year average.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) would respond to any possible oil shortages if necessary, but it also had “limitations”, he said.
“We can't replace any quantity with the spare capacity we have,” he said, and stressed that he did not forecast any shortage unless the situation changed.
“We are not forecasting any shortage of supply unless there is a catastrophic escalation, which we don't see.” - Reuters
Pakistan asks citizens to exercise maximum caution while visiting Iraq
Pakistan issued a travel advisory, asking citizens to be cautious while visiting Iraq due to the prevailing security situation in the Gulf country.
In retaliation to the killing of top Iranian commander General Qassem Soleimani, Iran has launched missile strikes against two U.S. military bases in Iraq on Wednesday.
“In view of recent developments and the prevailing security situation in the region, Pakistani nationals are advised to exercise maximum caution while planning visit to Iraq at this point,” Pakistan Foreign Office said in a statement.
It said, those already in Iraq to remain in close contact with the Embassy of Pakistan in Baghdad.
Thousands of Pakistani every year visit Shiite holy places in Iraq. - PTI
DGCA asks airlines to be vigilant in airspace over Iran, Iraq
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation, India's regulatory body for civil aviation, has asked Indian airlines to remain vigilant and take all precautions in airspace over Iran, Iraq, Gulf of Oman and the waters of Persian Gulf.
US aviation regulator FAA has also asked all US airlines to stop operating in the airspace over Iraq, Iran, and the waters of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman due to “events in Middle East”.
Avoid travel to Iraq, says MEA
Indian Ministry of External Affairs has issued a travel advisory, asking citizens to avoid travel to and within Iraq in the light of the prevailing situation.
"In view of the prevailing situation in Iraq, Indian nationals are advised to avoid all non-essential travel to Iraq until further notification. Indian nationals residing in Iraq are advised to be alert and may avoid travel within Iraq. Our Embassy in Baghdad and Consulate in Erbil will continue to function normally to provide all services to Indians residing in Iraq," the advisory reads.
Canada to move some troops from Iraq to Kuwait: Official
Some of the estimated 500 Canadian troops in Iraq will be moved temporarily to neighbouring Kuwait in the coming days to ensure their safety amid rising tensions in the region, a top Canadian military official said Tuesday.
General Jonathan Vance, chief of defense staff, announced the “operational pause” in a letter posted on Twitter to families of deployed military personnel.
“Over the coming days, and as a result of Coalition and NATO planning, some of our people will be moved temporarily from Iraq to Kuwait,” he said. “Simply put, we are doing this to ensure their safety and security.”
NATO suspends training mission in Iraq
NATO, which suspended its training mission in Iraq after the killing, said earlier Tuesday it also was temporarily “repositioning” some personnel to locations inside and outside Iraq.
Several other countries, including Germany and Romania, announced plans to move their forces. France, for its part, said it had no intention to withdraw its troops from Iraq.
Vance did not specify how many Canadian troops would be moved out.
“The situation in Iraq is complex and it is best to pause our work there in order to fully concentrate our attention and efforts toward the safety and security of our personnel while the situation develops,” Vance said.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau discussed the situation in talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and with Jordan’s King Abdullah, his office said, and they agreed to press for a “de-escalation” of the tensions.
Trudeau and the Jordanian king also agreed “on the need to remain focused on fighting Daesh,” the statement said, referring the Islamic State group. - AFP
Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now: Donald Trump
U.S. President Donald Trump, in his first reaction after Iran’s missile attack on two American bases in Iraq, insisted that “all is well” and promised to make a statement to the nation on Wednesday morning (local time).
Mr. Trump’s tweet came after his reported meeting with his national security team, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Mark Esper.
Though there was no official confirmation of the meeting, Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Esper were seen entering the White House on late Tuesday night.
We do not seek escalation or war: Iran Foreign Minister
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted that Iran took and concluded proportionate measures in self-defense under Article 51 of UN Charter
U.S. civil flights banned over Gulf, Iraq, Iran
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said Tuesday it was banning U.S.-registered carriers from flying over Iraq, Iran and the Gulf following rocket attacks on US forces in Iraq.
"The (FAA) issues Notices to Airmen tonight outlining flight restrictions that prohibit U.S. civil aviation operators from operating in the airspace over Iraq, Iran and the waters of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman," it said in a statement. "The FAA will continue closely monitoring events in the Middle East."
Intense military jet activity over Iraq capital: AFP
Military jets could be seen flying over the Iraqi capital early Wednesday, hours after Tehran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles at Iraqi bases where U.S. troops are located.
AFP 's correspondents saw jets cutting through the clouds over Baghdad but could not immediately identify the planes.
Iran fired 'more than a dozen' missiles at U.S. forces in Iraq: Pentagon
"At approximately 5.30 p.m. (2230 GMT) on January 7, Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles against U.S. military and coalition forces in Iraq," Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement. "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."
Iran launches missile attack on Iraq base housing U.S. troops
Iran on Wednesday launched a missile attack on an Iraqi airbase where U.S. forces are based, threatening "more crushing responses" if Washington carried out further strikes, Iranian state media said.
It said the missiles were in response to a U.S. strike last week that killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi top commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
(With inputs from Agencies)