Mortar bombs hit Iraq base hosting U.S. troops: Military sources

A Hercules plane takes off from Balad air base

Another Iraqi intelligence source said United States troops even seemed to know the timing of the attack, saying they seemed "totally aware" the base would be attacked "after midnight".

"The president's interpretation of that intelligence is very consistent with it", he said.

Others, citing USA and Arab sources, reported that Iran warned Iraq before the attacks and that Iraq had passed that information to the United States.

"They won't all say so publicly, but privately, they all welcome the fact that America is still there executing its counterterror campaign.and providing an opportunity for the Iraqis to gain sovereignty and independence that most Iraqis want", Pompeo claimed regarding his phone conversations with around 50 Iraqi community leaders.

While most members of the US military had been hunkering down for more than two hours in Saddam Hussein-era bunkers before the first missile landed on the base, the base was vulnerable to this type of assault. "To the extent we can use less American treasure and put fewer American lives at risk, we ought to do that", Pompeo said.

Though the Iranian strikes did not inflict any casualties, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley told reporters last week, "I believe, based on what I saw and what I know, that [the strikes] were meant to cause structural damage, destroy vehicles and equipment and aircraft and to kill personnel".

The move came after Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps' elite Quds Force, was assassinated in a USA drone strike on January 3 outside Baghdad International Airport in Iraq.

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"They knew what they were aiming at by targeting the airfield and parking area". US military leaders have said that was thanks to commanders on the ground, not Tehran's goodwill.

"When a rocket strikes that's one thing; but a ballistic missile, it's like terror", he said. He described soldiers who had survived the attack as "warriors".

Officers at the base said that it had become clear they would be attacked by mid-evening on the night the missiles hit.

Two Iraqi officials told Kuwait's Aljarida newspaper that the United States subsequently delivered an extraordinary indirect verbal message to the office of resigned Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, the newspaper reported today. This allowed troops to move vehicles and other equipment to fortified bunkers before they were hit.

At least four soldiers were reportedly injured after eight mortar bombs fell inside Iraq's Balad Air Base which was hosting the United States troops in Iraq's Salahudin province.

"I was 100% ready to die", he added.

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