Security: Iranian forces launch missiles at Ayn al-Assad Air Base in northern Iraq, early Jan. 8. No immediate reports of casualties.

Severity: Warning Alert

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • Baghdad
  • Balad

This alert began 08 Jan 2020 00:20 GMT and is scheduled to expire 08 Jan 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Artillery attacks
  • Location: Ayn al-Assad Air Base, Al Anbar Province (map)
  • Time/Date: Early Jan. 8
  • Fatalities (Injuries): Unknown (Unknown)

Summary
Iranian state media reported that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) had launched dozens of ballistic missiles at Ayn al-Assad Air Base in Al Anbar province, northern Iraq, early Jan. 8. The airbase hosts both Iraqi and American military forces. There have been no immediate reports of casualties.

Authorities will almost certainly maintain an extremely tight security posture near sensitive sites - including facilities where US personnel are present - over the coming days. Additional attacks are highly likely.

Background and Analysis
The attack is retaliation for the Jan. 3 US airstrike that killed Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani and several prominent Iraqi Shi'a militia leaders. Soleimani was the commander of the Quds Force, which is the external wing of the IRGC that focuses on special and clandestine operations outside Iran. He was the chief architect of Iran's military adventures and played a pivotal role in the country's activities in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen. Soleimani was also Iran's most formidable military commander and a favorite of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Khamenei has vowed revenge for his death.

Advice
If operating in Iraq, exercise extreme caution over the coming days until the extent and nature of any reprisal attacks over Soleimani's death become clear. Avoid all gatherings and rallies. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Plan for delays to diplomatic services and Iraqi government operations across the country. Reconfirm business appointments. If there are reports of incoming artillery fire in the general vicinity, stay indoors, away from windows and exterior walls, and, if possible, move to a ground floor or basement. Check flight status before departing for the airport if traveling via Baghdad International Airport (BGW) as sporadic security incidents may prompt flight disruptions with little to no warning. Do not check out of accommodations until onward travel is confirmed.

Related Advice: General guidelines to protect yourself against terrorism.