Less than 24 hours following a state funeral for Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a US drone strike near Baghdad International Airport in Iraq on January 3, the Iranian military fired multiple rockets targeting Iraqi military bases housing US troops. The attacks were made at 5:30 PM Eastern Time on January 7 against the the Al-Asad and Irbil airbases and were confirmed by the US Department of Defense in a statement.
The attacks occurred amid international tension fearing the outbreak of war in the region, with both Iran and the United States making statements to explain their recent actions. As US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper stated to the press,
How – how do you expect us not to respond after they’ve been killing our people for 20 years. Soleimani alone has the blood of hundreds of Americans. He’s wounded thousands of Americans and coalition partners. So somehow them turning this around, he is a terrorist, a leader of terrorist organization who’s been killing and attacking Americans for 20 some years. And the blood is on his hands. He was planning attacks on American forces.Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark T. Esper, January 6, 2020
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani responded to Soleimani’s death publicly on Twitter promising revenge.
The flag of General Soleimani in defense of the country’s territorial integrity and the fight against terrorism and extremism in the region will be raised, and the path of resistance to US excesses will continue. The great nation of Iran will take revenge for this heinous crime.Hassan Rouhani via Twitter, January 3, 2020
Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif claimed the rocket attack was in self-defense, complied with UN regulations, and that Iran seeks a peaceful resolution, but will defend itself if necessary.
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.Javad Zarif via Twitter, January 7, 2020
Esper also took the position that the United States was open to a peaceful dialog.
We encourage them to de-escalate the situation. We are open to sitting down with them and discussing issues so that we could have a more normal relationship with that country. We’ve been saying this for quite some time now. I’ve conveyed that to our partners and to our allies.Mark Esper, January 6, 2020
US President Donald Trump, meanwhile, seemingly brushed off the attack, and said that he would make a statement.
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.US President Donald Trump via Twitter, January 7, 2020
With fears of escalating violence in the area, many countries have opted to evacuate their embassies for security reasons. Economic markets were also affected over concerns of instability in the region affecting oil commodity prices.