A top Iranian military leader said on Thursday that the ballistic missiles fired on U.S. bases in Iraq were intended for military equipment, not troops.
“We did not intend to kill,” said Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, head of the Revolutionary Guard’s Aerospace Force, as reported by Washington Post. “We intended to hit the enemy’s military machinery.”
Hajizadeh insisted, however, that “tens of people were killed or wounded,” repeating an earlier claim made by the Iranian government.
Iran claimed it took out 20 sensitive targets and caused damage to numerous drones and helicopters on the al-Asad base in Iraq. Iran also claimed the strikes killed 80 U.S. forces and injured another 200.
Both the Pentagon and President Trump confirmed that no U.S. or Iraqi casualties had been suffered in the attack.
“No American or Iraqi lives were lost because of the precautions taken, the dispersal of forces, and an early warning system that worked very well,” Trump said on Wednesday.
Vice President Mike Pence and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley both remarked that they believed Iran’s missiles did intend to kill Americans.
“The ballistic missiles fired at American bases … we believe were intended to kill Americans. We have intelligence to support that was the intention of the Iranians,” Pence said on Thursday, according to CNN.
“I believe, based on what I saw and what I know, that they were intended to cause structural damage, destroy vehicles and equipment and aircraft and to kill personnel. That’s my own personal assessment,” Milley said in a Wednesday statement also reported by CNN.
Both Pence and Milley both attributed repositioning of U.S. troops as key for avoiding casualties.
Of the 15 missiles, 10 hit the Al Assad Air Base in Anbar province, Iraq, one missile struck the Combined Joint Operations Center in Irbil, Iraq, and four missiles failed.
The missiles were reportedly tracked by radar systems, allowing U.S. forces to move to safety before they struck. The U.S. did not attempt to intercept the missiles.
Iranian state television said Iran admitted to launching “’tens’ of surface-to-surface missiles,” in revenge for the killing of IRGC Quds Force Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the Associated Press reported.