By Greg Norman
Published January 13, 2020
American troops are in the process of clearing debris and rubble from an area the size of a football stadium Monday at a military base in western Iraq that was hit by Iranian airstrikes.
The attack on the Ain al-Asad base last Wednesday, where about 1,500 American and coalition forces are stationed, was carried out in retaliation for the killing of Iranian Revolutionary Guards Gen. Qassem Soleimani. An Associated Press crew touring the facility Monday saw damaged military trailers as well as forklifts lifting rubble and loading it onto trucks.
“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 U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.
He added that the explosions at the base, which is about 110 miles west of Baghdad, created large craters, knocked over concrete barriers and destroyed facilities that house dozens of soldiers.
Although no troops were killed, Caggins said several were treated for concussions and are being assessed by professionals. Caggins also explained that troops received notification the missiles were on their way, thanks to early warning systems, and described those who lived through the attack as “warriors.”
The area at the base where rubble was piled up Monday is about the size of a football stadium, The Associated Press reports.
The Ain al-Asad base was first used by American forces after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and later saw American troops stationed there amid the fight against ISIS.
President Trump visited the sprawling airbase in December 2018, making his first presidential visit to troops in the region. Vice President Pence has also visited the base.
U.S. Army Lt. Col. Antoinette Chase told reporters the night of the attacks the troops were in bunkers but could “feel everything shaking.”
“I had zero casualties and everybody is alive to tell the tale. So as far as I'm concerned, I couldn't be happier and I couldn't be prouder of the actions that the soldiers and the coalition forces took that night,” she added.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.