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Iranian official tweeted picture of Iran flag shortly after strike on Iraq bases

Iranian flag. (Blondinrikard Fröberg/Flickr)
January 08, 2020

An Iranian official tweeted a picture of the Iran flag shortly after a missile attack damaged two Iraqi bases housing U.S. and coalition forces.

The image was shared on Tuesday afternoon by Saeed Jalili, a senior official and former secretary of Iran’s national security council. It has since received 10,000 retweets and nearly 40,000 likes on the social media platform.

It is likely a reaction to the American flag President Donald Trump tweeted last week, shortly after the deadly drone strike that killed of Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s elite Quds Force.

The missiles targeted al Assad air base in Iraq’s western Anbar province and another base in Erbil in Iraq’s semiautonomous Kurdish region. No death or injuries were reported, though the extent of damage to the bases remains unclear.

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One U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told USA TODAY that U.S. officials and on-site troops had early warning of the strike, allowing them to scramble for cover.

“These bases have been on high alert due to indications that the Iranian regime planned to attack our forces and interests in the region,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said.

Nearly seven hours after Jalili’s initial tweet, he made his condemnation of Trump explicit. “Trump, who had described America as crippled, must be aware that he can do nothing to Iran with a crippled body,” he wrote early Wednesday on Twitter.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif called the strike “proportional.” Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reiterated that the U.S. must exit Iraq – and the Middle East.

“They were slapped last night, but such military actions are not enough,” he said.

Trump, meanwhile, is expected to address the nation Wednesday morning.

The extent of the damage to the bases was not immediately clear, but no deaths or injuries were reported.

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© 2020 USA Today