US officials confirmed air strikes at the Ain Assad air base and the Pentagon said Iran launched over a dozen ballistic missiles targeting at least two military bases in Iraq where US and coalition troops were based, after America’s assassination of Revolutionary Guard General Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike in Baghdad last week.
US Defence Department spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said: “It is clear that these missiles were launched from Iran.”
He said the attacks “targeted at least two Iraqi military bases” at Ain Assad and Irbil.
Hoffman said the US was “working on initial battle damage assessments.”
There was no immediate word on injuries.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said the Ain Assad base was “completely destroyed”.
A White House spokeswoman said: “The President has been briefed and is monitoring the situation closely and consulting with his national security team.”
Scott Morrison has spoken to defence chief Angus Campbell and defence minister Linda Reynolds about the strikes, as well as Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese, while in South Australia to visit the fire-ravaged Kangaroo Island.
Morrison directed Campbell to do “whatever actions are necessary” to protect and defend Australian military and diplomatic personnel.
In a statement, Morrison said the national security committee had been meeting since Saturday to review the situation and take decisions as necessary.
It is due to meet again on Thursday and will be convened sooner should an immediate response be required.
Albanese urged the United States and Iran to exercise restraint.
“I don’t want to see Australia drawn into a military conflict in the Middle East,” he told reporters in Adelaide.
“The first priority should be ensuring that Australians are kept safe.”
The Pentagon says it has taken “all appropriate measures” to safeguard its personnel and partners.
“These bases have been on high alert due to indications that the Iranian regime planned to attack our forces and interests in the region,” a US Department of Defense spokesman said.
“As we evaluate the situation and our response, we will take all necessary measures to protect and defend US personnel, partners and allies in the region.”
There are reports “shelter in place” sirens have been heard at the Taji base in northern Baghdad, which houses Australian and allied troops.
Soleimani’s whose funeral on Tuesday in his hometown of Kerman prompted angry calls to avenge his death, which drastically raised tensions in the Middle East.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard warned the US and its regional allies against retaliating over the missile attack.
“We are warning all American allies, who gave their bases to its terrorist army, that any territory that is the starting point of aggressive acts against Iran will be targeted,” The Guard said.
It also threatened Israel.
Ain Assad air base was first used by American forces after the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein. It later saw American troops stationed there amid the fight against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.
We value local independent journalism. We hope you do too.
InDaily provides valuable, local independent journalism in South Australia. As a news organisation it offers an alternative to The Advertiser, a different voice and a closer look at what is happening in our city and state for free. Any contribution to help fund our work is appreciated. Please click below to become an InDaily supporter.