“We did them serious damage. They will have to admit it in the coming days. They cannot hide their heavy losses”, Abolfazl Shekarchi was quoted as saying by the semi-official Fars news agency.
US President Donald Trump initially said that no US personnel were killed or injured in the strike, but in late January, the Defence Department said an estimated 50 US military personnel were diagnosed with either traumatic brain injury (TBI) or a concussion, as approximately 200 troops were found to have been in the blast zones of the strikes.
Several days later, the Pentagon put the number of injured US troops at 64.
On 8 January, Iran conducted missile strikes on two Iraqi bases hosting US soldiers, in what was an act of retaliation for the assassination of Iran’s top commander Qasem Soleimani, who was killed in the US targeted attack on the International Airport in Baghdad.
The United States justified Soleimani’s killing by claiming he was plotting attacks on US assets in the region, while the Iranian ambassador to Iraq publicly revealed that Soleimani was in Baghdad on 3 January to deliver a message related to Iranian efforts to normalise its relations with Saudi Arabia.
Soleimani was a highly-respected figure in Iran, praised for combating militant and terrorist groups in the region, including Daesh, and responsible for the construction of Iran’s security infrastructure.