Trump avoids escalation, says Iran ‘standing down’ after missile attacks on US bases

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President Donald Trump on Wednesday said Iran appeared to be “standing down” after missile strikes against Iraqi bases that caused no US casualties, indicating there would be no immediate new military response.
In a televised address to the nation from the White House, Trump emphasised that there were “no Americans harmed” in the salvo of missiles aimed at two bases.
While he promised to immediately impose “punishing” new economic sanctions against Iran, Trump welcomed signs that Iran “appears to be standing down” in the tit-for-tat confrontation, signaling that the United States did not plan a new military riposte.
Trump closed his remarks by addressing Iranians directly, saying that he was “ready to embrace peace with all who seek it.” However, the US president, facing both an impeachment trial in Congress and a tough reelection in November, touted his decision to order the killing of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani last Friday -- the operation that prompted Tehran’s missile strike.
Soleimani, a national hero in Iran, was “the world’s top terrorist” and “should have been terminated long ago,” Trump said.
Although Trump ended his remarks with the call for peace, he opened by stating bluntly that he would never allow Iran to procure a nuclear weapon.

 

He then urged European allies and other world powers to follow America’s lead in abandoning a teetering international agreement on managing the country’s nuclear ambitions.
Iran’s missiles targeted the sprawling Ain al-Asad airbase in western Iraq and a base in Arbil, both housing American and other foreign troops deployed in a US-led coalition fighting the remnants of the Islamic State jihadist group.
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called the missiles a “slap in the face” for the United States and indicated that more was to come.
“An important incident has happened. The question of revenge is another issue,” Khamenei said in a speech broadcast live on state television.
The office of Iraq’s premier said it had received “an official verbal message” from Iran informing it that a missile attack on US forces was imminent.
“Iraq rejects any violation of its sovereignty and attacks on its territory,” the statement said, without specifically condemning the missile strikes.
Iraqi President Barham Saleh denounced the attack and said it rejected attempts to turn Iraq into a “battlefield for warring sides”.
Iraq’s military said it sustained no casualties in 22 missile strikes, most of them hitting Ain Al-Asad.
The brazenness of the strike was highly unusual for Iran, which has tended to disguise attacks on US interests or troops through its use of proxy Shiite forces.
“Ballistic missiles openly launched from Iran onto American targets is a new phase,” said Phillip Smyth, an expert on Shiite militias.

Source: Qatar Tribune

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