Washington – President Donald Trump speak on the Iran crisis at 11 a.m. Wednesday, the morning after Iran attacked two military bases in Iraq that house American troops, the White House announced.
However, there were no casualties in the missile barrage that Iran described as retaliation for last week’s U.S. attack that killed a top Iranian general, Qasem Soleimani, according to officials in the U.S. and the region.
Trump had initially vowed to strike back hard if Iran attacked U.S. troops, but he seemed to take a more conciliatory tone in a social media post late Tuesday.
“All is well!” Trump tweeted. “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!”
A clear sign of reduced tensions: A United States official confirmed that the U.S. had advance warning of Iran’s missile assault, allowing it to take precautions.
The president delivered his address in the Grand Foyer of the White House residence. The White House has invited guests to attend the speech live, but did not identify who they would be.
Trump’s speech is scheduled to air in Tehran at 7:30 p.m. local time.
Adding to the president’s speech, administration officials plan to brief congressional lawmakers on Capitol Hill regarding the Soleimani attack as well as subsequent developments.
Trump huddled with nation security aides both late Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning, officials said, in part to prepare his remarks on the way forward with Iran.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were among the national security officials seen at the White House early Wednesday.
Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, also on Twitter, said Iran has “concluded proportionate measures in self-defense under Article 51 of UN Charter,” and that it targets included the military base from which cowardly armed attack against our citizens & senior officials were launched.”
He added: “We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression.”
Iran fired more than a dozen missiles at U.S. targets inside Iraq. Most targeted the Ain al-Asad base more than 100 miles from Baghdad, the same base Trump visited in late 2018. Other missiles hit a base near the city of Erbil.
The latest confrontation between the U.S. and Iran, perhaps the most dangerous one said the hostage crisis of 1979-80, began last month with an attack by an Iranian-backed militia that killed an American contractor. The U.S. responded with attacks on militia bases that killed at least two dozen people.
Tensions continue to rise when members of militia groups stormed the U.S. embassy compound in Baghdad, setting fires to buildings and issuing threats against Americans.
That was followed by last Thursday’s U.S. strike that killed Suleiman.
Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the latest missile attacks were a “slap” at the Americans, and “These military actions are not sufficient” to avenge Soleimani’s killing.
“What is important is that the corrupt presence of America in this region comes to an end,” Khamenei said in a speech.
Iran President Hassan Rouhani said in a tweet that Soleimani “fought heroically” against ISIS and other terrorist groups. “If it weren’t for his war on terror, European capitals would be in great danger now,” he tweeted. “Our final answer to his assassination will be to kick all US forces out of the region.”
A diversity of world leaders called on Iran and the United States to reduce tensions and try to seek some sort of settlement.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg condemned Iran’s attack on the U.S. bases, and called on Tehran to refrain from further attacks. In a tweet, Stoltenberg added that “allies continue to consult & remain committed to our training mission in Iraq.”