U.S. troops in Iraq got warning hours before Iranian attack

  • A U.S. soldier stands at a site of Iranian bombing in Ain al-Asad air base, Anbar, Iraq, on Monday. AP

  • U.S. Soldiers walk past a site of Iranian bombing at Ain al-Asad air base, in Anbar, Iraq, Monday, Jan. 13, 2020. Ain al-Asad air base was struck by a barrage of Iranian missiles on Wednesday, in retaliation for the U.S. drone strike that killed atop Iranian commander, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, whose killing raised fears of a wider war in the Middle East. Qassim Abdul-Zahra

  • Iranian bombing caused a crater at Ain al-Asad air base in Anbar, Iraq, Monday, Jan. 13, 2020. Ain al-Asad air base was struck by a barrage of Iranian missiles on Wednesday, in retaliation for the U.S. drone strike that killed atop Iranian commander, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, whose killing raised fears of a wider war in the Middle East. (AP Photo/Ali Abdul Hassan) Ali Abdul Hassan

  • U.S. Soldiers clean up with brooms while bulldozers clear rubble and debris at Ain al-Asad air base in Anbar, Iraq, Monday, Jan. 13, 2020. Ain al-Asad air base was struck by a barrage of Iranian missiles on Wednesday, in retaliation for the U.S. drone strike that killed atop Iranian commander, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, whose killing raised fears of a wider war in the Middle East. (AP Photo/Ali Abdul Hassan) Ali Abdul Hassan

  • Rubble and debris are seen at Ain al-Asad air base in Anbar, Iraq, Monday, Jan. 13, 2020. Ain al-Asad air base was struck by a barrage of Iranian missiles on Wednesday, in retaliation for the U.S. drone strike that killed atop Iranian commander, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, whose killing raised fears of a wider war in the Middle East. (AP Photo/Qassim Abdul-Zahra) Qassim Abdul-Zahra

  • Bulldozers clear rubble and debris at Ain al-Asad air base in Anbar, Iraq, Monday, Jan. 13, 2020. Ain al-Asad air base was struck by a barrage of Iranian missiles on Wednesday, in retaliation for the U.S. drone strike that killed atop Iranian commander, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, whose killing raised fears of a wider war in the Middle East. (AP Photo/Qassim Abdul-Zahra) Qassim Abdul-Zahra

  • Iranian bombing caused a crater at Ain al-Asad air base in Anbar, Iraq, Monday, Jan. 13, 2020. Ain al-Asad air base was struck by a barrage of Iranian missiles last Wednesday, in retaliation for the U.S. drone strike that killed atop Iranian commander, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, whose killing raised fears of a wider war in the Middle East. (AP Photo/Ali Abdul Hassan) Ali Abdul Hassan

  • A bulldozer clears rubble and debris at Ain al-Asad air base in Anbar, Iraq, Monday, Jan. 13, 2020. Ain al-Asad air base was struck by a barrage of Iranian missiles on Wednesday, in retaliation for the U.S. drone strike that killed atop Iranian commander, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, whose killing raised fears of a wider war in the Middle East. (AP Photo/Qassim Abdul-Zahra) Qassim Abdul-Zahra

  • U.S. Soldiers stand while bulldozers clear rubble and debris at Ain al-Asad air base in Anbar, Iraq, Monday, Jan. 13, 2020. Ain al-Asad air base was struck by a barrage of Iranian missiles on Wednesday, in retaliation for the U.S. drone strike that killed atop Iranian commander, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, whose killing raised fears of a wider war in the Middle East. (AP Photo/Ali Abdul Hassan) Ali Abdul Hassan

  • Bulldozers clear rubble and debris at Ain al-Asad air base in Anbar, Iraq, Monday, Jan. 13, 2020. Ain al-Asad air base was struck by a barrage of Iranian missiles last Wednesday, in retaliation for the U.S. drone strike that killed atop Iranian commander, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, whose killing raised fears of a wider war in the Middle East. (AP Photo/Qassim Abdul-Zahra) Qassim Abdul-Zahra

  • A U.S. soldier stands while bulldozers clear rubble and debris at Ain al-Asad air base in Anbar, Iraq, Monday, Jan. 13, 2020. Ain al-Asad air base was struck by a barrage of Iranian missiles on Wednesday, in retaliation for the U.S. drone strike that killed atop Iranian commander, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, whose killing raised fears of a wider war in the Middle East. (AP Photo/Ali Abdul Hassan) Ali Abdul Hassan

  • U.S. soldiers and journalists inspect the rubble at a site of Iranian bombing, in Ain al-Asad air base, Anbar, Iraq, Monday, Jan. 13, 2020. Ain al-Asad air base was struck by a barrage of Iranian missiles on Wednesday, in retaliation for the U.S. drone strike that killed atop Iranian commander, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, whose killing raised fears of a wider war in the Middle East. (AP Photo/Qassim Abdul-Zahra) Qassim Abdul-Zahra

  • This satellite image provided on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020, by Middlebury Institute of International Studies and Planet Labs Inc. shows the damage caused from an Iranian missile strike at the Ain al-Asad air base in Iraq. Iran's actions were in response to the U.S. killing of Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani. (Planet Labs Inc./Middlebury Institute of International Studies via AP)

  • U.S. Soldiers walk past damage at a site of Iranian bombing at Ain al-Asad air base, in Anbar, Iraq, Monday, Jan. 13, 2020. Ain al-Asad air base was struck by a barrage of Iranian missiles on Wednesday, in retaliation for the U.S. drone strike that killed atop Iranian commander, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, whose killing raised fears of a wider war in the Middle East. (AP Photo/Qassim Abdul-Zahra) Qassim Abdul-Zahra

Published: 1/13/2020 3:01:52 PM
Modified: 1/13/2020 3:01:06 PM

American troops were informed of an impending missile barrage hours before their air base in Iraq was struck by Iran, U.S. military officials said Monday, days after the attack that marked a major escalation between the longtime foes.

At 11 p.m. on Jan. 7, U.S. Lt. Col. Antoinette Chase gave the order for American troops at Ain al-Asad air base in western Iraq, to go on lockdown. Military movements froze as her team, responsible for emergency response at the base, sent out alerts about the threat. At 11:30 p.m., she gave the order to take cover in bunkers.

The first strike landed sometime after 1:35 a.m. on Jan. 8 and the barrage continued for nearly two hours.

No American soldiers were killed or wounded, the U.S. has said, although several troops were treated for concussions from the blast and are being assessed, said Col. Myles Caggins, a spokesman at the base for the U.S. coalition fighting the Islamic State group.

“The reason why we pushed it at 2330 is because at that point in time all indications pointed to something coming,” she told reporters touring the base. “Worst case scenario – we were told was it’s probably going to be a missile attack. So we were informed of that.”

The Iranian attack was in retaliation for the U.S. drone strike near Baghdad airport that killed top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani on Jan. 3.

An Associated Press crew touring the Ain al-Asad base saw large craters and damaged military trailers. Forklifts lifted rubble and loaded it onto trucks from a large area the size of a football stadium. U.S. soldiers inspected portable housing units destroyed in the attack.

The sprawling complex in western Anbar province is about 110 miles west of Baghdad and is shared with the Iraqi military. It houses about 1,500 members of the U.S. military and the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State militant group.

The Iranian attack – the most direct assault on America since the 1979 seizing of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran – raised fears of a wider conflict although both sides have since indicated that they won’t seek further retaliation, at least in the short term.

“There were more than 10 large missiles fired and the impact hit several areas along the airfield,” said Col. Myles Caggins, a spokesman for the anti-ISIS coalition.

The attack destroyed facilities that house dozens of soldiers and one missile hit near an airstrip where six drones were parked but caused no damage, he said.

The base received a notification that the missiles were on their way, thanks to early warning systems, Caggins said, and troops were moved out of harm’s way. He described soldiers who lived through the attack as “warriors.”




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