The Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey has released sattelite photos (through NPR) showing the extent of the damage inflicted on US bases in Iraq yesterday.
Over a dozen missiles were launched from Iran at two bases housing American and coalition troops — one in Ibril and the other in Anbar province — in retaliation for the US assassination of Iranian Major-General Qasem Soleimani.
Though media reports said American officials were under the impression Iran sent the missiles as a warning and intend to inflict severe damage or injury, according to Middlebury Institute analyst David Schmerler, “Some of the locations struck look like the missiles hit dead center.”
At least five structures were damaged in the attack on the base in Anbar province, which apparently was precise enough to hit individual buildings.–NPR.
“The buildings we’re tallying now seem to be used for storing aircraft,” said Schmerler. “There are other structures at the air base that would be exclusively for people so maybe they intended to strike sites with equipment over people.”
There were no reported fatalities from the attacks.
Photos reportedly taken 20 feet from a downed missile in Iraq show the wreckage.
Expert and director of nonproliferation and nuclear studies at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Michael Elleman, studied the photos and said they “appear to be the remnants of a Qiam missile body/airframe.”
The Qiam-1 missile is a single stage, liquid-fueled, short-range ballistic missile developed by Iran with a range of up to 500 miles, according to the Center for Strategic & International Studies’ Missile Defense Project. It is capable of carrying a 1,650-pound warhead and has a precision guidance system that can be redirected during flight.
Video that captured the launching of the missiles on Iranaian television showed what is believed to be solid-fueled rockets, which are “very advanced” according to Fabian Hinz, an Iranian missile expert at the Middlebury Institute.
All the missiles used are far larger than the rockets used in previous attacks on U.S. personnel in Iraq. Those weapons carry warheads of a few pounds in size, while these ballistic missiles have warheads that are many hundreds of pounds. “It’s a really, really substantial difference,” Hinz says.
According to Iran’s foreign minister, one of the bases attacked was the very base the drone which murdered General Soleimani was launched from, making it possibly a symbolic target to the Iranians who that same day buried their fallen general.
The other base hit was the very base Donald Trump visited last year in an official trip to Iraq, meaning both targets carried symbolic value.
These realizations have prompted Tom Karako from the Center for Strategic & International Studies to suspect the attacks were “overall…a relatively modest response.”
He thinks the attacks intentionally avoided areas known to hold personnel, concluding that “if they wanted a bunch of causalities they could have done something different.”
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