For thirty intense minutes at 1:30 AM local time, the skies over Iraq were lit by streaks of fiery light as at least sixteen ballistic missiles streaked from launch sites in Iran (video here) to target two military bases in Iraq occupied by Iraqi, U.S. and other international forces. Tehran’s promised violent retaliation for the U.S.’s killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani was on its way.
Five missiles raced towards a base in Erbil in northern Iraq. However, four appeared to malfunction, leaving only one to land near the target.
At least eleven more came plunging down near Anais al-Asad airbase, located west of Baghdad. Radar-guided robotic Centurion C-RAM Gatling cannons—though designed to shoot down more primitive artillery rockets and mortar shells traveling at much slower speeds—hosed the night sky with thousands of 20 millimeter cannon shells (video capture here) attempting to shoot down missiles plunging towards them at several times the speed of sound.
However, unlike oil fields in Saudi Arabia, the roughly 1,000 U.S. personnel there were not protected by Patriot air defense missile batteries designed with capability to intercept short-range ballistic missiles. According to the U.S. military, none of the incoming missiles were shot down.
At Asad the Iranian missiles landed on target, demolishing buildings and cratering a flight line. Thankfully, as ballistic missile launches are highly visible on radar, the base personnel were adequately forewarned and took shelter in underground bunkers. Thus, there were no reported casualties from either attack, contrary to Iranian propaganda claiming to have killed “80 American terrorists.”
YAHOOO NEWS/ THE NATIONAL INTEREST