Trump Says Iran Appears to Be Standing Down After Missile Attack
US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday there were no American casualties in the Iranian strikes on military bases housing US troops in Iraq and that Tehran appeared to be standing down.
Speaking from the foyer of the White House, Trump announced that the US will immediately place new sanctions on Iran "until Iran changes its behavior." He defended his targeted killing last week of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran's elite Quds Force. He added that Americans should be "extremely grateful and happy" that no Americans were harmed when Iran launched ballistic missiles at two Iraqi bases housing US troops early Wednesday.
"No Americans were harmed in last night's attack by the Iranian regime. We suffered no casualties," Trump said.
Trump says Iran "appears to be standing down" and is crediting an early warning system "that worked very well" for the fact that no Americans or Iraqis were killed.
The launch was Tehran´s most brazen direct assault on America since the 1979 seizing of the US Embassy in Tehran and came days after Trump authorized the targeted killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran´s elite Quds Force.
Iran had pledged to retaliate, bringing the two countries closer to the brink of war.
Trump reiterated his position that "Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon" and called for new nuclear negotiations to replace the 2015 nuclear deal from which he withdrew the US.
Trump also announced he would ask NATO to become "much more involved in the Middle East process."
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Trump's reaction in the immediate aftermath of the attacks had been to say on Twitter that "All is well!" and that Washington was assessing damage.
US and European government sources said they believed Iran had deliberately sought to avoid US military casualties in its missile strikes to prevent an escalation.
Earlier on Wednesday, an Iranian army spokesman had denied "foreign media reports" suggesting there had been some kind of coordination between Iran and the United States before the attack to allow bases to be evacuated, Fars news agency said.
The US president, who was impeached last month and faces an election this year, had at the weekend threatened to target 52 Iranian sites if Iran retaliated for Soleimani's killing.
Iranian state television said Iran had fired 15 ballistic missiles from its territory at US targets in its neighbor Iraq early on Wednesday. The Pentagon said al-Asad airbase and another facility in Erbil were struck.
Iranian state television had said 80 "American terrorists" had been killed and US helicopters and military equipment had been damaged. But it did not say how it obtained that information.
Germany, Denmark, Norway, and Poland said none of their troops in Iraq were hurt. Britain, which also has personnel in Iraq, condemned the Iranian action and said Tehran "should not repeat these reckless and dangerous attacks".
Iraq said its forces did not suffer casualties.
More than 5,000 US troops remain in Iraq along with the other foreign forces in a coalition that has trained and backed Iraqis against the threat of ISIS militants.