Iran launches more than a dozen missiles at US military, coalition forces in Iraq

A U.S. official confirmed the missiles were aimed at Erbil in northern Iraq and Al Asad Air Base in western Iraq and came days after U.S. forces killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
10:00 | 01/08/20

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Transcript for Iran launches more than a dozen missiles at US military, coalition forces in Iraq
We start with breaking news. Tonight, Iran keeping their promise to retaliate, launching 15 ballistic missiles at two military bases in Iraq that house American troops. Iranian state TV releasing video which purportedly shows the missiles targeting one of the bases on al-assad air base. This coming after a U.S. Drone strike killed one of their top military commanders, general qassem soleimani, a revered figure in the country and across the Middle East. Iranians out in full force in the streets to honor him. President trump briefed on tonight's attack which came hours after he doubled down on his order to take out soleimani, insisting that the general was planning a quote, very big attack. Well, number one, I knew the his past was terrible. He was a terrorist. We had tremendous information. We've been following him for a long time. And we followed his path for those three days. And they were not good stops. We didn't like where he was stopping. They were not good stops. We saved a lot of lives. This as Iranians tonight pay their final respects to sole mawn E the white house closely monitoring the situation. President trump tweeting tonight that quote, all is well. This after the foreign minister for Iran tweeted they took proportionate measures in self defense adding that they do not seek escalation or war but will defend themselves. The U.S. Deploying 3600 more troops to the Middle East in response to simmering tensions. We go now to our Ian Pannell from erbil, Iraq. Reporter: It's been an evening of fast-moving events and high-tension. Two strikes by multiple missiles launched from the surface in Iran, landing in the surface in Iraq. The first and main target was the al-assad air base. This is in western Iraq out towards the Syrian border. Home normally to thousands of U.S. Troops. It's not clear how many were based there at the time, together with a large number of Iraqi troops as well. The other target was here in erbil. We found the sound of explosions at about 5:45 followed by another explosion about 30 or 40 minutes later. Two of those were targeted at the erbil international airport less than two miles from here. They were intercepted bay defense system. A third missile landing out in open ground. If that is of course the case that will be analyzed by U.S. Military experts to determine exactly what it was and more importantly where it came from. But it seems that the U.S. Military were tracking the flight of these. Now the other key site which was the al-assad air base apparently was hit by multiple rockets, although it appears a number of them failed to hit their targets. That's according to senior U.S. Officials. Everyone now remains on high alert, waiting to see what happens next. What will be the retaliation from the United States, if any. Iraqi forces will be in a high alert status to see what happens, in a defensive posture at least until the word comes to act differently. We now turn to Martha Raddatz in Tehran. What are you learning from the Iranian side on this attack? Reporter: Byron, I had spoken to the Iranian foreign minister just hours before these retaliatory attacks. Zarif told me that they wanted to hit the United States in a place that would cause the most pain. He also said they were very patient people and they would do it at a time and place where they thought it would be most effective. But this came very suddenly here in Tehran. We talked to some people in the lobby of our hotel, some Iranians who were so concerned about this. And when they started hearing the news they were very worried that there would be a retaliatory attack from the United States and that we would be in an all-out war. Zarif told me today that that is up to the United States and how they respond to this attack. But I get the sense here tonight, Byron, that no one in Iran wants any sort of all-out conflict. And where just a few days ago the ball was in Iran's court, it is now certainly in the united States' opinion in what they do and what action president trump takes in retaliation to this attack. Thanks, Martha. We turn to ABC's senior national correspondent, Terry Moran. What are you hearing from the white house tonight? Reporter: The president was apprised right away of this attack, and he gathered around him his top national security team, secretary of state Mike Pompeo, defense secretary mark Esper. Top military commanders, vice president pence all coming to the white house, in the situation room as these developments occurred. And they watched as the damage assessment took place. He was also calling other world leaders, including the amir Qatar. Qatar sometimes a go-between between Iran and the west. So he was involved diplomatically and militarily, but at the end of the night, held fire, both literally and rhetorically. This is a president who's been issuing bloodcurdling threats against Iran, threatening massive escalation if they retaliate for the killing of qassem soleimani, and nothing really at the end of the day, except the president said he would be speaking to the nation tomorrow morning. The president tweeted tonight saying in part, quote, all is well. What does this tweet signal do you think? Reporter: I do think it signals that he's looking for an off ramp, wanting to maintain American credibility. Certainly, one of his main political goals is to distinguish himself from president Barack Obama and other previous presidents who say we weren't tough enough on Iran. He has taken this dramatic action, taking off the battle field soleimani. And here is this response fr Iran which apparently has taken no American lives, no Iraqi lives. It sounds as if both sides are trying to soften the tone an a little bit. That's hard to say after a missile attack, but it did not kill. And I think the president's response is measured in response to that. That is essentially what one can hope, given the prospect that the region could explode in these days. But right now it looks like president trump, who has certainly talked tough, is measuring his response. We'll find out more tomorrow morning when he does address the nation. Thank you Terry, we turn to Steve ganyard. There are no reports of casualties and reports that some of the missiles failed. What kind of a message do you think Iran was trying to send? I think they were trying to appease domestic anger. We stood up to the great Satan. We stood up to the United States and hit them back but not do it in such a way that would give president trump a reason to retaliate against Iran with greater conventional military means. So it was just enough to satisfy domestic political opinion and satisfy the anger of the Iranian people but not enough for a war in the gulf. They put out a statement calling Americans terrorists and warning that any more American aggression would result in pounding responses. What kind of damage are they capable of creating? They're quite capable. You remember the attacks on the Saudi Arabian oil refineries. If you looked at that, the precision. Each one of those oil tanks had a pinprick that blew up that tank. Very well coordinated. Their military is quite good. Most of it is homegrown, but they do have excellent capabilities. That's why when we look at these airfields they don't make sense. If they wanted to really do damage to the United States, these would be the last two place they would hit. Any other place in the persian gulf that had more troops would make more sense. This goes back to the idea, perhaps they didn't want to do any damage. Perhaps they wanted to make a statement that they can play on domestic television, show rockets in the air and call it a day. Now Tehran is about eight and a half hours ahead of us time what do you think the perspective will be? I think they'll feel good that their government did something, stood up for them. The outpouring of grief that we've seen, the photos of hundreds of thousands of people filling the streets. Stampedes because they wanted to get close to the soleimani casket. There's a lot of emotion right now in Iran itself. If we think for the past three months there have been riots in thousands of Iranians have been killed by Iranian security forces because of the dissatisfaction with the regime. They need to show that they are responsive to the sadness of the Iranian people. That's what they're going to continue to play. We stood up to them to. But now we need to get back to fixing the country. How events culminated in the attacks by the Iranians.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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