Iraq has condemned the missile strikes launched by Iran on United States’ soldiers on Wednesday, saying it feared the worst had happened.
Barham Saleh, Iraq’s President, issued the condemnation on Wednesday, hours after the strike occurred.
“We denounce the Iranian missile bombing that hit military installations on Iraqi territory and renew our rejection of the repeated violation of state sovereignty and the transformation of Iraq into a battlefield for warring sides,” Saleh’s office said in a statement.
Iran said it launched the missiles in response to the killing of Qasem Soleimani, the head of its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force, in a US drone strike in Iraq last week.
Iraq confirmed that it was notified by Iran of the missile strikes before its execution early Wednesday.
“We got an official verbal message from the Islamic Republic of Iran that the Iranian response to the assassination of martyr Qassem Soleimani has started or will start shortly after and that the strike will be limited to sites where the US Army is in Iraq without specifying the sites,” said a military spokesman for Abdel-Mahdi, Iraq’s caretaker Prime Minister.
So far, there have been no reports about casualties among the Iraqi forces or the coalition troops stationed in Iraq.
It was learnt that the report of no casualties may be partly due to Iraq’s forewarning to the US, which helped the Americans to prepare for the impending strike.
However, reports from the US suggest that the US missile defence systems were operational as its heat sensors allegedly picked up electronic signals and communications of the missiles before they made impact at their targetted areas.
But Iran is claiming that the strikes caused serious casualties, killing up to 80 US troops.
According to Mehr News, an Iranian state-run media outlet, a source in the IRGC told the agency that besides the soldiers killed, 200 people in the US airbase of Ain al-Assad in Anbar province in western Iraq were wounded.
“According to the accurate reports of our sources in this area, at least 80 American terrorist troops were killed and some 200 others were wounded, who were immediately transferred out of the airbase by helicopters,” the news agency said.
“Ain al-Assad air base was a strategic site for the US which was used to support drones. Despite the fact that Americans had been on high alert, their air defense was unable to respond,” the news agency reported.