2020 Iranian attack on U.S. forces in Iraq

On 8 January 2020, in a military operation code named Operation Martyr Soleimani (Persian: عملیات شهید سلیمانی‎),[3] Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) launched at least 15 ballistic missiles at the Ayn al-Asad airbase in Al Anbar Governorate, Western Iraq, as well as another airbase in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan in response to the assassination of Major General Qasem Soleimani by United States forces.[4][5][6]

Iran had informed the Iraqi government regarding the attack. No Iraqi or American casualties were reported.[7]



  • 1 Background
  • 2 Attacks
    • 2.1 Casualties
  • 3 Aftermath
  • 4 Reactions
  • 5 See also
  • 6 References


In the lead up to the attacks, Iranian officials had stated that Iran would retaliate against U.S. forces for the killing of general Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad on 3 January 2020.[8] Reportedly, following the Baghdad strike, U.S. spy agencies detected that Iran’s ballistic missile regiments were at a heightened readiness but it was unclear at the time if they were defensive measures or an indication of a future attack on U.S. forces.[9] U.S. President Donald Trump warned Tehran that any retaliation would result in the U.S. targeting 52 Iranian significant sites, including cultural sites.[10]

Weeks earlier[clarification needed], on 3 December 2019, five rockets had landed on the Ayn al-Asad airbase and there were no injuries.[11] A “security source” inside Ayn al-Asad airbase and a “local official at a nearby town” said that the reports that the Ayn al-Asad airbase were under attack at that time were false.[12] These reports on Twitter temporarily caused a rally of U.S. and Brent crude oil futures.[12]

According to the PM’s spokesman, on 8 January shortly after the midnight, the Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi had received a message from Iran, that the response to the killing of General Soleimani had “started or was about to start”. Iran also informed the PM that only those locations where the US troops are stationed would be targeted. The exact locations of the bases were not disclosed. [7]


According to the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA), the country’s state-run news outlet, Iran fired “tens of ground-to-ground missiles” at the base and claimed responsibility for the attacks.[3] ISNA stated that the code used to launch the missiles was ‘Oh Zahra.’[13][3] The attacks unfolded in two waves, each about an hour apart.[14] The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) claimed responsibility for the attack and announced that it was carried out in response to the killing of Suleimani. The IRGC added that if the United States responded with a retaliatory strike, the IRGC would respond in kind. The IRGC further declared that their statement was intended as a warning and applied to all of the United States’ partners who provided their bases to its military.[15]

Although the Pentagon disputes the number launched, it has confirmed that both the Ayn al-Asad and the Erbil airbases in Iraq were hit.[16][17] A U.S. military spokesman for United States Central Command stated a total of fifteen missiles were fired. Ten hit the Ayn al-Asad airbase, one hit the Erbil base, and four missiles failed.[14] Other sources confirmed that two ballistic missiles targeted Erbil: one hit Erbil International Airport and did not explode, the other landed about 20 miles west of Erbil.[18]

According to the Iraqi military 22 ballistic missiles were fired on the two sites between 1:45 am and 2:15 am at the al-Asad and Erbil facilities. They said 17 missiles have launched on Ayn al-Asad base and five missiles on Erbil.[19][20]

Fars News Agency released video of what it claims is the attack on U.S. military forces in Iraq.[21][22]


Neither missile targeted at the Erbil base caused any casualties.[18] No casualties were immediately reported at Ayn al-Asad airbase.[14]

U.S. officials stated that bomb damage assessment was ongoing in the hours after the attack. U.S. President Donald Trump later stated that an assessment of casualties and damages was taking place.[4][23] The initial assessment was that there were “no U.S. casualties”[14] and that the missiles struck areas of the Ayn al-Asad airbase not populated by Americans.[24] An Iraqi security source said there were Iraqi casualties at the base.[24] However, the Iraqi military later reported no casualties among its forces.[19][20][25] Senior Iraqi officials have added on their statements on that there were neither American nor Iraqi casualties resulting from the strikes.[26]

A spokesperson for the Norwegian Armed Forces stated there were no injuries reported for the approximately seventy Norwegian troops stationed at Ayn al-Asad airbase.[13] Scott Morrison, the Australian prime minister, confirmed that no Australians were injured in the attack. During the attack, the Australian PM reportedly told Angus Campbell, chief of the Australian Defence Force, to “take whatever actions are necessary to protect and defend” Australian troops and diplomats in Iraq.[4][27] Jonathan Vance, chief of the Canadian Armed Forces, confirmed that no Canadians were killed in the attack.[4][28] The Danish Defense confirmed that no Danish soldiers were harmed.[29] Poland’s Defence Minister declared no Polish troops stationed in Iraq were injured.[30][31] OPEC’s Secretary-General Mohammed Barkindo on conference in Abu Dhabi announced Iraqi oil facilities secure.[31]

Iranian Television claim 80 US deaths and damage to US helicopters.[32][33]


The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration issued a notice to airmen prohibiting 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.[4][34][35] Singapore Airlines diverted its air flights from Iran airspace following the attacks.[36]

Oil prices surged by 4% on news of the attack, with analysts noting that traders had underestimated Iran’s expected response to Soleimani’s death.[37] Reuters reported of impacts to financial market and oil prices.[38]


On 8 January 2020, Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, said that military actions are not enough and that the “corruptive presence” of the United States in the Middle East must be ended.[39]

After the attack, Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif stated on Twitter that “Iran took & concluded proportionate measures in self-defense under Article 51 of UN Charter targeting base from which cowardly armed attack against our citizens & senior officials were launched. We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression.”[4][40][41]

In his first public comments on the attack, U.S. President Trump stated on Twitter that “All is well!”. He added that damage assessments were ongoing and that he would make a statement on the attack the following morning.[4][23]

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson denounced Iran’s missile attacks on U.S. military bases in Iraq, urging Tehran to avoid further “reckless and dangerous” strikes.[42]

See also

  • 2020 in Iran
  • 2020 in Iraq



  • “بیانیه رسمی سپاه درباره حملات موشکی سنگین به پایگاه آمریکایی عین الاسد | نام عملیات: شهید سلیمانی”. همشهری آنلاین. 7 January 2020.
  • “Iran claims 80 American troops killed in missile barrage; US says no casualties”. www.timesofisrael.com.
  • “Iran launches missiles into US air bases in Iraq: US official”. ABC News. Retrieved 7 January 2020.
  • Washington (earlier), Maanvi Singh Joan E. Greve in; Doherty, Ben; Butler, Ben; Safi, Michael; Safi, Michael; Borger, Julian (8 January 2020). “Iran launches missiles at US forces in Iraq at al-Asad and Erbil—live updates”. The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 8 January 2020.
  • Eqbali, Aresu; Malsin, Jared; Leary, Alex (7 January 2020), “Iran Fires Missiles at U.S. Forces in Iraq”, Wall Street Journal, retrieved 7 January 2020
  • “Iran Fires Missiles at Two U.S. Bases in Iraq: Live Updates”. The New York Times. 8 January 2020. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 8 January 2020.
  • “Iraqi PM received word from Iran about missile attack”. Reuters. 8 January 2020. Retrieved 8 January 2020.
  • U.S.–Iran tensions after Soleimani killing: All the latest updates Al Jazeera, January 5, 2020
  • “US spies detected Iranian ballistic missiles at a heightened state of readiness following the assassination of Qassem Soleimani”. Business Insider. 5 January 2020. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  • Suleimani killing: Donald Trump defends threat to target cultural sites in Iran The Guardian, January 6, 2020
  • Rasheed, Ahmed; Hassan, Samar (3 December 2019). “Rockets hit base hosting U.S. forces in western Iraq”. Reuters. Cairo. Retrieved 7 January 2020.
  • “Reports of attacks on U.S. military base in Iraq are false: two sources”. Reuters. 3 January 2020. Retrieved 7 January 2020.
  • “Iran warns US not retaliate over missile attack in Iraq”. AP NEWS. 7 January 2020. Retrieved 7 January 2020.
  • Miles, Frank (7 January 2020). “Iran launches 15 ballistic missiles into Iraq targeting US, coalition forces, officials say”. Fox News. Retrieved 8 January 2020.
  • “Iran ‘Concludes’ Attacks, Foreign Minister Says”. 7 January 2020 – via NYTimes.com.
  • Borger, Julian; Wintour, Patrick (8 January 2020). “Iran crisis: missiles launched against US airbases in Iraq”. The Guardian. London. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 7 January 2020.
  • Alkhshali, Hamdi; Browne, Ryan; Starr, Barbara. “Pentagon says Iran attacked two Iraqi bases housing US forces”. CNN. Retrieved 8 January 2020.
  • Alkhshali, Hamdi (7 January 2020). “Two ballistic missiles hit Erbil, sources say”. CNN. Archived from the original on 8 January 2020. Retrieved 8 January 2020.
  • “Iran missile strike: Two US-Iraq bases hit by 22 projectiles, officials say, as crisis escalates”. independent.
  • “Iran launches missile attacks on US facilities in Iraq”. aljazeera.
  • Agency, Source: Fars News (8 January 2020). “Iran releases footage of missile attack on US airbases in Iraq—video”. The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 8 January 2020.
  • “Iran launches missile attack against US forces inside Iraq in ‘revenge’ for Qassem Soleimani assassination”. ABC News. 8 January 2020. Retrieved 8 January 2020.
  • Trump, Donald J. [@realDonaldTrump] (7 January 2020). “All is well! Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq. Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good! We have the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world, by far! I will be making a statement tomorrow morning” (Tweet). Retrieved 8 January 2020 – via Twitter.
  • Browne, Ryan; Brown, Pamela (7 January 2020). “Missiles hit areas of al-Asad base not populated by Americans”. CNN. Archived from the original on 8 January 2020. Retrieved 8 January 2020.
  • Politics, P. M. N. (8 January 2020). “No Iraqi casualties in 22-missile Iranian attack overnight -military | National Post”. Retrieved 8 January 2020.
  • Rubin, Alissa J.; Fassihi, Farnaz; Schmitt, Eric; Yee, Vivian (7 January 2020). “Iran Fires on U.S. Forces at 2 Bases in Iraq, Calling It ‘Fierce Revenge“. The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 8 January 2020.
  • “No Australian troops, staff hurt in Iran missile attacks on US airbases in Iraq”. SBS News. Retrieved 8 January 2020.
  • Vance, General Jonathan [@CDS_Canada_CEMD] (7 January 2020). “CAF families: I can assure you that all deployed CAF personnel are safe & accounted for following missile attacks in Iraq. We remain vigilant” (Tweet). Retrieved 8 January 2020 – via Twitter.
  • Prakash, Thomas; Olsen, Theis Lange (8 January 2020). “Militærbase med danske soldater ramt af iranske missiler – meldes i god behold” [Military base with Danish soldiers hit by Iranian missiles—declared safe and sound]. DR (in Danish). Retrieved 8 January 2020.
  • Charlish, Alan. “No Polish troops in Iraq hurt in Iranian missile attacks: minister”.
  • “Iran fires missiles at US targets in Iraq: All the latest updates”. aljazeera.
  • Stewart, Ahmed Aboulenein and Phil (8 January 2020). “We slapped them on the face’: Ayatollah tells Iranians”. The Sydney Morning Herald.
  • “Iran missiles target U.S. forces in Iraq; Trump says ‘All well“. 8 January 2020 – via www.reuters.com.
  • “US bans airlines from flying over Iraq and Iran after attacks on military”. The Guardian. 8 January 2020.
  • FAA, The [@FAANews] (7 January 2020). “#FAA Statement: #NOTAMs issued 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.pic.twitter.com/kJEbpPddp3” (Tweet). Retrieved 8 January 2020 – via Twitter.
  • “Singapore Air Diverts Flights From Iran Airspace After Attacks”. Bloomberg. 8 January 2020.
  • Stevens, Pippa (7 January 2020). “Oil prices surge 4% at high following attacks on Iraq bases”. CNBC. Retrieved 8 January 2020.
  • “GLOBAL MARKETS-Stocks, gold and oil whipsawed as Iran strikes spark fears of wider Mideast war – Reuters”. Reuters. 7 January 2020.
  • “Iran attack: US troops targeted with ballistic missiles”. bbc.
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  • Zarif, Javad [@JZarif] (7 January 2020). “Iran took & concluded proportionate measures in self-defense under Article 51 of UN Charter targeting base from which cowardly armed attack against our citizens & senior officials were launched. We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression” (Tweet). Retrieved 8 January 2020 – via Twitter.

“British PM condemns Iranian missile attack; Iranian President pledges US forces wil be ejected”. Breaking News. 8 January 2020. Retrieved 8 January 2020.


Iranian missile attack on U.S.-led coalition forces in Iraq
Part of the Persian Gulf crisis
and the Iran–Saudi Arabia proxy conflict
Operational scope Multiple-sites targeted military strike
Ayn al-Asad Airbase, Al Anbar Governorate, Iraq
Erbil International Airport, Erbil Governorate, Kurdistan Region, Iraq

33°48′N 42°26′ECoordinates: 33°48′N 42°26′E

Planned by Iran
Commanded by Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami
Target Al Asad Airbase
Erbil International Airport
Date 8 January 2020 (UTC+03:00)
Executed by Aerospace Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps[1]
Outcome 6 to 10 Fateh-313 missiles hit Ayn al-Asad Airbase
1 Qiam 1 missile hits 20 miles from Erbil International Airport (alleged)
1 Qiam 1 missile reaches Erbil International Airport and does not explode (alleged)
3 Qiam 1 missiles fail in the air (alleged)
Casualties No Iraqi or American casualties officially reported;
More than 80 soldiers killed and 200 injured (according to Iranian media)[2]

Ayn al-Asad Airbase
Location of Ayn al-Asad Airbase in Iraq
Iraqi insurgency (2017–present)

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