Iran attacks bases housing US troops

By Meg Wagner, Ivana Kottasová, Mike Hayes, Veronica Rocha and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 0731 GMT (1531 HKT) January 9, 2020
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8:17 a.m. ET, January 8, 2020

Some in the Trump administration think Iran intentionally missed areas with Americans

From CNN's Kylie Atwood, Pamela Brown, Kaitlan Collins and Jim Sciutto

There is a growing belief among some administration officials that Iran’s missiles intentionally missed areas populated by Americans during attacks on Tuesday, multiple administration officials said. 

These officials floated the notion that Iran could have directed their missiles to hit areas that are populated by Americans — but specifically did not.

They suggested Iran may have chosen to send a message rather than take significant enough action to engender a substantial US military response, a possible signal the administration was looking for rationale to calm the tensions.

Missiles also hit close to the US consulate in Erbil, but didn’t go for the consulate itself, though the expectation is that they could have. Officials have said there were no US casualties as a result of the attacks.

The Pentagon is assessing whether this was the limit of Iran’s response and calibrated to ensure it didn’t cause significant damage, according to one source with knowledge. There are also questions about Iran’s targeting capabilities, which could have impacted the areas that were hit. 

“We could have done it and we didn’t do it,” is the message Iranians appeared to be sending, a State Department official said. 

What happens next: This interpretation will be presented to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a briefing today, and Pompeo is expected to brief the President at some point later in the day. 

The US gave Iran the “opportunity to do what they needed to do and not escalate by killing Americans,” the official said, suggesting how the administration could frame the retaliation. This was “a smart move” by the Iranians who demonstrated that they had “more to lose” if they killed Americans.

Now, the major question is if Iranian proxies follow suit, the official explained. 

Pompeo is “pragmatic” right now and the general sentiment last night was “let’s take a breath.”

There were no additional moves taken overnight to add any more protection to US diplomatic facilities abroad.  

7:40 a.m. ET, January 8, 2020

Trump's national security team is at the White House

From CNN's Betsy Klein

Members of President Trump’s national security team have arrived at the White House this morning.

CNN spotted Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, national security adviser Robert O’Brien and Vice President Mike Pence this morning.

President Trump said he will give a statement this morning following the attack on two Iraqi military bases housing US troops. It's not clear exactly what time that will happen.

7:26 a.m. ET, January 8, 2020

Iran attacked two Iraqi air bases housing US troops. Here's what we know so far.

From CNN's Hamdi Alkhshali, Ryan Browne and Barbara Starr

Iran launched more than a dozen missiles at two Iraqi bases that hold US troops early this morning local time. The attack appears to be retaliation for the US airstrike that killed a top Iranian general last week, the Pentagon said last night.

Here's what we know now:

  • No casualties: A US official told CNN that there were no initial reports of any US casualties from the attack, but an assessment of the impact of the strikes is underway. Iraq's joint military command said there were no casualties among Iraqi military forces.
  • About the general's killing: The attack comes days after the US killed top Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in an airstrike in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. The administration has sought to cast that strike as an attempt to de-escalate tensions with Iran, but Tehran has vowed revenge for the killing, which it says was an "act of war" and "state terrorism."
  • "Hard revenge": In a statement, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, or IRGC, said the attacks were "hard revenge" for the death of Soleimani. The IRGC said in the statement that any country housing US troops could be subject to "hostile and aggressive acts" and called on American citizens to demand the government remove US troops from the region.

7:23 a.m. ET, January 8, 2020

Who was in the White House Situation Room last night after the attacks

from CNN's Pamela Brown

President Trump met in the Situation Room with his national security team last night following the strikes at the airbase housing US troops.

The officials with the president included:

  • Vice President Mike Pence
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
  • Defense Secretary Mark Esper
  • Joint Chiefs chairman Mark Milley
  • Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney
  • National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien
  • Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire
  • Press secretary Stephanie Grisham

CIA Director Gina Haspel attended the meeting remotely.

7:23 a.m. ET, January 8, 2020

Trump will address the nation this morning

President Trump tweeted last night that he'd make a statement about Iran's attack on bases housing US troops this morning, adding, "All is well!"

It's not clear exactly what time he'll make his address.

White House aides had initially made plans for a possible address to the nation by Trump after the missile strikes last night, according to two officials, but a White House official said the President would not speak immediately.

Trump later tweeted this:

7:24 a.m. ET, January 8, 2020

How Iran is responding after the missile attack

Iran fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two Iraqi military bases housing US troops early this morning local time.

In a televised address this morning, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that Iran gave the US "a slap in the face last night," in reference to the attacks.

He added that America had cast Soleimani as a "terrorist," which was "unjust and unfair."

The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, an elite wing of the Iranian military, said in a statement that the attacks on Iraqi bases were "hard revenge" for the death of Soleimani. The IRGC said any country housing US troops could be subject to "hostile and aggressive acts" and called on American citizens to demand the government remove US troops from the region.

It warned the US:

"If you repeat your wickedness or take any additional movements or make additional aggression, we will respond with more painful and crushing responses."