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Trump urges allies to unite against Iran after attack on US bases

US president confirms there were no American casualties in operation

US president Donald Trump makes a statement at the White House in Washington on Wednesday. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

US president Donald Trump said on Wednesday there were no American casualties in the Iranian strikes on military bases housing US troops in Iraq and that Tehran appeared to be standing down.

“No Americans were harmed in last night’s attack by the Iranian regime. We suffered no casualties,” Mr Trump said in a White House address.

“Our great American forces are prepared for anything. Iran appears to be standing down.”

Mr Trump said the UK, Germany, China and other countries should now unite in isolating Iran.

He stressed sanctions would remain against Iran until it changed its behaviour.

The Iranian strike was in retaliation for the US killing of Iranian general Qassem Suleimani, raising the stakes in its conflict with Washington amid concern of a wider war in the Middle East.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, addressing a gathering of Iranians chanting “Death to America”, said the attacks were a “slap on the face” of the United States and said US troops should leave the region.

Tehran’s foreign minister said Iran took “proportionate measures” in self-defence and did not seek an escalation.

Mr Donald Trump, who ordered the drone strike that killed General Suleimani in Baghdad on Friday, gave an initial response on Twitter: “All is well!”.

Mr Trump said casualties and damage from the missile attacks were being assessed.

US and European government sources they believed Iran had deliberately sought to avoid US military casualties in its missile strikes to prevent an escalation.

Coordination denied

Earlier on Wednesday, an Iranian army spokesman had denied “foreign media reports” suggesting there had been some kind of coordination between Iran and the United States before the attack to allow bases to be evacuated, Fars news agency said.

Mr Trump conferred with advisers at the White House on Wednesday. Vice president Mike Pence, defence secretary Mark Esper and secretary of state Mike Pompeo were expected to be with him when he makes the statement.

The US president, who was impeached last month and faces an election this year, at the weekend threatened to target 52 Iranian sites if Iran retaliated for Suleimani’s killing.

Iranian state television said Iran had fired 15 ballistic missiles from its territory at US targets in its neighbour Iraq early on Wednesday. The Pentagon said al-Asad air base and another facility in Erbil were targeted.

The United States did not announce any casualties.

Iranian state television said 80 “American terrorists” had been killed and US helicopters and military equipment damaged. It did not say how it obtained that information.

Germany, Denmark, Norway and Poland said none of their troops in Iraq were hurt. Britain, which also has personnel in Iraq, condemned the Iranian action and said Tehran “should not repeat these reckless and dangerous attacks”.

Iraq said its forces did not suffer casualties. The UN mission in Iraq called for restraint, saying: “Iraq should not pay the price for external rivalries.”

More than 5,000 US troops remain in Iraq along with the other foreign forces in a coalition that has trained and backed Iraqis against the threat of Islamic State militants.

“As we evaluate the situation and our response, we will take all necessary measures to protect and defend U.S. personnel, partners, and allies in the region,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said.- Reuters

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