A rocket exploded last night in Iraq’s Dujail district, 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of Baghdad in the Salahuddin Province.
According to local police sources, the missile landed near the Balad Air Force base where U.S.-led coalition forces are stationed. No injuries or damage were reported.
The attack marks the second time this week Iraqi military compounds housing U.S. military personnel came under hostile fire, following a pre-dawn Iranian ballistic missile strike on Wednesday.
Two rockets were also launched at Baghdad’s heavily fortified “Green Zone” Wednesday, where many foreign diplomatic missions are situated. One of the projectiles reportedly exploded some 100 meters away from the U.S. Embassy. No injuries or damage were reported in either attack.
The recent developments come in the wake of an assertion by U.S. President Donald Trump that the Islamic Republic ‘appears to be standing down’ from further retaliation over the 3 January assassination of Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani, derived from intelligence assessments that ‘Iran instructed its proxies to cease any attacks on regional installations housing U.S. forces.’
President Donald Trump told supporters at a campaign rally in Ohio that “Soleimani was actively planning new attacks, and he was looking very seriously at our embassies – and not just the embassy in Baghdad – but we stopped him and we stopped him quickly and we stopped him cold,” with what he referred to as “American Justice.”
President Trump also stressed he had been ready to retaliate against Iran’s January 8 ballistic missile strikes until being informed there were thankfully no American casualties in the attack. And while Washington’s Western partners have voiced broad support for the Soleimani’s killing by referencing it as a defensive American operation, many U.S. lawmakers have been demanding additional information on the ‘imminent danger’ the Trump Administration maintains posed by the Iranian General. “He was a bad guy. He was a bloodthirsty terrorist. “He was a bad guy. He was a bloodthirsty terrorist. And he’s no longer a terrorist. He’s dead,” Trump told the Toledo audience, adding, “And yet now I see the radical left Democrats have expressed outrage over the termination of this horrible terrorist.”
The Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution last night to rein-in President Trump‘s ability to launch a new conflict in the Middle East. Approval of the bill fell mostly along party lines, 224 in favor to 194 against; and will now go to the Republican-controlled Senate.
The partisan vote reflected the deep divide in Congress over the Trump Administration’s Iran policy, and how much of a say lawmakers should have over use of the military. Democrats accusing Trump of acting recklessly backed the resolution, while it was opposed by his fellow Republicans. Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the war powers bill was passed in accordance with the Representatives’ “first responsibility to keep the American people safe” and “to limit the president’s military actions regarding Iran. “ She went on to say, “Congress is reassuring our long-established oversight responsibilities as we mandate that if no further congressional action is taken, the administration’s military hostilities with regard to Iran must end.” At the other end of the political spectrum, Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said, “I’d actually like to hear a Democrat speak to the 600 Gold Star families the Soleimani killed. I’d like to hear them defend that. I’d like to hear them defend Iran and their actions of burning an embassy, of killing an American, of killing thousands of civilians, even in their own country. But they’re going to take our time today with something that means nothing. But yes, they will run to the mikes. They’ll get on TV and they’ll tell a little more fake news that it meant something today. The only thing today will happen — they’ll make Iran believe they are stronger. They’ll make Iran believe they have allies in the House of Representatives.”
It is unclear how the war powers resolution will fare in the Senate, which holds a Republican majority of 53 mandates in the 100-seat chamber. Republican Senators Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah have already expressed support for the Democratic-promoted measure.
Meanwhile the commander of the Islamic Republic’s Aerospace Force, IRGC Brigadier-General Amir Hajizadeh claimed that Iran’s missile attacks on U.S. targets in Iraq were not meant to kill American soldiers but instead teach a “lesson,” and stimulate an American withdraw from the region.
General Hajizadeh, whose presentation was broadcast on state television, insisted to the watching Iranian public that “a big number – dozens – have been killed for sure. A number were wounded for sure. The figures will come out eventually.”
He further declared that “If we were seeking to achieve casualties, the least we could do was to plan the operation in such a way that 500 of them would have been killed. And if they had responded, our conditions would have changed. I mean, if we were facing their next operation, then we would have had no responsibility to save American lives. In the second and third steps, we think we would have had at least 500 Americans killed with 48 hours.”