Iran Believed to Have Deliberately Missed U.S. Forces in Iraq Strikes, Western Sources Say

The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Wednesday the Iranians were thought to have targeted the attacks to miss U.S. forces to prevent the crisis from escalating

Residents look at a crater caused by a missile launched by Iran on U.S.-led coalition forces on the outskirts of Duhok, Iraq, January 8, 2020
ARI JALAL/ REUTERS

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Iran is believed to have deliberately sought to avoid U.S. military casualties in missile strikes on bases housing American troops in Iraq launched in retaliation for the U.S. killing of an Iranian general, according to U.S. and European government sources familiar with intelligence assessments.

The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Wednesday the Iranians were thought to have targeted the attacks to miss U.S. forces to prevent the crisis from escalating out of control while still sending a message of Iranian resolve. A source in Washington said overnight that early indications were of no U.S. casualties, while other U.S. officials declined comment.

U.S. President Donald Trump, who ordered the drone strike that killed General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad on Friday, gave an initial response on Twitter: "All is well!".

Trump said casualties and damage from the missile attacks were being assessed. The White House said the president would make a statement at 11 a.m. (1600 GMT).

The shattered glass window of a shop, caused by a missile launched by Iran on the U.S.-led coalition forces, on the outskirts of Duhok, Iraq, January 8, 2020
ARI JALAL/רויטרס

Turkey and Russia called on United States and Iran on Wednesday to prioritise diplomacy and de-escalate tensions, warning that the exchange of attacks by Washington and Tehran could lead to a new cycle of instability in the region.

The joint call was issued in a statement after a meeting between Presidents Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin in Istanbul.

Iranian forces fired missiles at military bases housing U.S. troops in Iraq on Wednesday in retaliation for the U.S. killing of an Iranian general, raising the stakes in Tehran's conflict with Washington amid concern of a wider war in the Middle East.