New Delhi/Washington, Jan 8 : The crisis in the Middle East may deescalate if the US suffered no casualties in the retaliatory strikes that Iran launched against two American military bases in Iraq on Monday. Tehran has provided no proof of any American casualties yet.
To avenge the killing of its Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Qasem Soleimani in a targeted US airstrike, Tehran on Monday claimed that it retaliated proportionately. Incidentally, around 50 people were killed in a stampede during Soleimani's funeral which was attended by thousands in Tehran.
Iran's Foreign Minister in a tweet said, "Iran took & concluded proportionate measures in self-defence under Article 51 of UN Charter targeting base from which cowardly armed attack against our citizens & senior officials were launched." However, he added that Iran did "not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression." While President Donald Trump confirmed Iran's attack against the US, he played down the impact of the strikes. "All is well! Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq. Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good! We have the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world, by far! I will be making a statement tomorrow morning." Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the strikes on the US bases in Iraq were successful. Iranian state TV initially claimed that "80 American terrorists" were killed in the retaliatory strikes but later said that it was yet to be confirmed.
However, without any evidence to support its claim, Iran is unlikely to drag the US onto the escalatory ladder, official sources in Washington told IANS. "If Iran has concluded retaliation without having caused any American casualties, the crisis will deescalate in the short term. But that is not to say that there won't be any asymmetric and sub-conventional warfare," an official source said.
Incidentally, 176 people on board a Ukrainian Boeing 737 died when it crashed shortly after its take off from Iran's main international airport. Iranian state TV attributed the crash to "technical problems". A 4.9 magnitude earthquake in Iran's southwestern region was also reported.
Iran has annulled its nuclear deal with the US and also threatened to pursue uranium enrichment.