Iraqi Air Force helicopters land at Ain al-Asad Air Force Base in Iraq’s Anbar Province on December 29, 2019.
Thais Al-Sudani | Reuters
The Pentagon confirmed on Wednesday that nearly a dozen missiles hit an Iraqi base where US forces are stationed.
The first report, tweeted by Army spokesman Colonel Wayne Marotto, said 10 “indirect fire” missiles struck Ain al-Asad Air Force Base in Anbar Province, where some of the 2,500 US forces are located are stationed in Iraq.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said no US soldiers were injured in the attack. He added that “a US civilian entrepreneur suffered heart disease while on the shelter and sadly passed away shortly afterwards.”
The Pentagon said the Iraqi military was investigating.
“Let us examine our Iraqi partners and see what they learn. And if an answer is warranted, I think we have clearly shown that we will not shy away from it. We are simply not there yet,” said a Pentagon spokesman when asked if the US would respond to the attacks with military measures.
The Biden administration was briefed on the attack overnight and has “reached out to the field and the military to assess the damage and review the personnel,” a White House official told NBC News.
The attack on Ain al-Asad on Wednesday follows Biden’s decision to hit Iranian-focused militia targets in Syria.
These strikes in Syria were seen as retaliation against the February 15 missile attack in Erbil. Two days later, the Biden government warned of retaliation.
“It is fair to say that there will be consequences for any group responsible for this attack,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters at the time.
The skirmishes could upset what the Biden administration sees as a foreign policy priority: a return to the Iranian nuclear deal reached with multiple world powers during the Obama administration. The deal lifted economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for curtailing its nuclear program.
The deal has all but collapsed since the Trump administration unilaterally dropped it in 2018 and imposed extensive sanctions on Iran that crippled its economy.
Natasha Turak from CNBC contributed to this report.