Western powers condemn Iran attack targeting US troops

Britain’s Johnson says Iranians should not repeat ‘reckless and dangerous’ action, France declares de-escalation is a priority, EU warns further violence is ‘in no one’s interest’

US Army soldiers stand outside their armored vehicle on a joint base with Iraqi army south of Mosul, Iraq, February 23, 2017. (Khalid Mohammed/AP/File)
US Army soldiers stand outside their armored vehicle on a joint base with Iraqi army south of Mosul, Iraq, February 23, 2017. (Khalid Mohammed/AP/File)

PARIS, France — Western powers on Wednesday condemned Iran’s missile attack on Iraqi bases housing US and other foreign troops, urging an end to the escalating crisis.

Iran fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles in the early hours of Wednesday, officials in Washington and Tehran said.

Iran said it was responding to the US killing of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani last week, warning it would hit back even harder if Washington responded.

“All is well!” US President Donald Trump’s tweeted. “Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good!”

He would be making a statement on Wednesday morning, he added.

US President Donald Trump listens to a question in the Oval Office of the White House, in Washington, January 7, 2020. (Alex Brandon/AP)

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson told parliament: “Iran should not repeat these reckless and dangerous attacks but should instead pursue urgent de-escalation.”

Earlier, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab warned that another war in the Middle East would only benefit the Islamic State group “and other terrorist groups”.

The European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the attack was yet another example of “escalation and increased confrontation.”

“It is in no-one’s interest to turn up the spiral of violence even further,” he added, warning that the crisis was hampering the fight against Islamic State.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street in London, January 8, 2020. (Matt Dunham/AP)

EU foreign ministers will hold emergency talks on the Iran crisis Friday to discuss what the bloc can do to reduce tensions.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a statement: “The priority is more than ever for a de-escalation.

“France remains determined to work to ease tensions and is in contact with all the parties to encourage restraint and responsibility.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has described Soleimani as Iran’s “terrorist-in-chief,” made it clear Israel would strike back if attacked.

“Anyone who attacks us will receive a resounding blow,” he warned.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian arrives at the EEAS building in Brussels, January 7, 2020. (John Thys, Pool Photo via AP)

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said: “I condemn the Iranian missile attacks on US and coalition forces in Iraq. NATO calls on Iran to refrain from further violence.”

A NATO official said none of its troops in Iraq had been hurt in the strikes.

‘Violation of sovereignty’

The Iraqi prime minister’s office said it had received an official warning from Iran just before the missile launches.

Iran had told premier Adel Abdel Mahdi that “the strike would be limited to where the US military was located in Iraq without specifying the locations,” said the statement from his office.

“Iraq rejects any violation of its sovereignty and attacks on its territory,” the premier’s office added.

Mourners attend a funeral ceremony for Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani and his comrades, who were killed in Iraq in a US drone strike, in the city of Kerman, Iran, January 7, 2020 (Erfan Kouchari/Tasnim News Agency via AP)

In the wake of the Iranian attack, a number of airlines said they were avoiding Iranian and Iraqi airspace.

The US Federal Aviation Administration said it was banning US-registered carriers from flying over Iraq, Iran and the Gulf.

Its Russian counterpart, the Federal Air Transport Agency, recommended airlines avoid the air space over Iran, Iraq and the Persian and Oman Gulfs.

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