US President Donald Trump on Wednesday signaled that he would not retaliate militarily for Iran’s missile strikes on Iraqi bases housing US troops, although US forces in the region remained on high alert and Trump vowed to add to sanctions on Tehran.
“Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world,” Trump said at the White House.
On Dec. 27, Iranian proxies launched an attack that killed a US contractor and last week Iranian-backed militia besieged the US embassy in Baghdad.
Trump last week authorized the killing of Iran’s top general, Qassem Soleimani.
Tehran on Wednesday responded with its most direct assault on the US since the 1979 seizure of the US embassy in Tehran, firing more than a dozen missiles at two installations in Iraq.
The Pentagon said that it believed Iran fired the missiles with the intent to kill.
Hours after Trump spoke, an “incoming” siren was heard in Baghdad’s Green Zone after what seemed to be small rockets “impacted” the diplomatic area, a Western official said.
There were no reports of casualties.
Trump pledged to add to his “maximum pressure” campaign of economic sanctions.
New, unspecified sanctions would remain in place “until Iran changes its behavior,” he said.
Trump, in his nine-minute, televised address, spoke of a robust US military with missiles that are “big, powerful, accurate, lethal and fast.”
However, “we do not want to use it,” he added.
He said that the US was “ready to embrace peace with all who seek it.”
Iran for days had been promising to respond forcefully to Soleimani’s killing, but its limited strike on two bases — one in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil and the other at Ain al-Asad in western Iraq — appeared to signal that it, too, was uninterested in a wider clash with the US.
Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammed Javad Zarif tweeted that the country had “concluded proportionate measures in self-defense.”
Members of the US Congress were briefed on the Iran situation at closed-door sessions on Capitol Hill in Washington, where some expressed dissatisfaction with the administration’s justifications for the drone strike on Soleimani.
US Senator Mike Lee said it was “probably the worst briefing I’ve seen, at least on a military issue, in the nine years I’ve served in the United States Senate.”
He said it was “distressing” that officials suggested it would only embolden Iran if lawmakers debated the merits of further military action.
He and US Senator Rand Paul announced their support of a largely symbolic war powers resolution to limit Trump’s military action regarding Iran.
US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced after the briefing that the House was to vote yesterday on a war powers resolution of its own.
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