U.S. officials had advance warning of Iran’s missile assault that damaged two Iraqi bases housing U.S. and coalition forces, a U.S. official told USA TODAY.
Iran fired more than a dozen missiles Tuesday in retaliation for a U.S. drone strike days earlier that killed one of Tehran’s most powerful military leaders, Qasem Soleimani. Iranian state TV aired video of what its commentators said was the missiles being launched.
The missiles targeted al Asad air base in Iraq’s western Anbar province and another base in Erbil in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region. The extent of damage to the bases was not immediately clear, but no deaths or injuries were reported.
A hangar at al Asad base, a sprawling complex 100 miles west of Baghdad that houses about 1,500 coalition forces, was severely damaged, according to a U.S. official speaking to USA TODAY on the condition of anonymity. The official, who was not authorized to speak publicly, added that early-warning systems gave U.S. forces advance knowledge that missiles had been launched.
The warnings allowed troops and other personnel to scramble into hardened bunkers for safety. U.S. and coalition personnel in Iraq on the mission to combat ISIS have been practicing drills for missile attacks for some time, the official said.
“The early warning system worked,” the official said.
Read the full article by Tom Vanden and John Bacon on USA Today, January 8, 2020