STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Top US general says Iran tried to kill US troops as some administration officials believe they purposely missed

Iran fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two Iraqi military bases housing US troops. CNN's Arwa Damon has the latest.

Posted: Jan 8, 2020 8:59 AM
Updated: Jan 8, 2020 5:45 PM


The top US general made clear Wednesday night that he believes Iran meant to kill US troops in the ballistic missile attack on US forces in Iraq, rebutting a belief among some Trump administration officials that Iran intentionally missed areas populated by Americans.

'I believe based on what I saw and what I know that they were intended to cause structural damage destroy vehicles and equipment and aircraft, and to kill personnel. That's my own personal assessment,' said Army Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, when speaking to reporters on Wednesday,

Milley argued that the reason there were no casualties had 'more to do with the defensive techniques that our forces used as opposed to intent.'

He added, 'We took sufficient defensive measures that there were no casualties to US personnel, coalition personnel, contractors or Iraqis.'

The message runs counter to what some administration officials have suggested to CNN, which is that Iran could have directed their missiles to hit areas that are populated by Americans but intentionally did not. And those officials said Iran may have chosen to send a message rather than take significant enough action to provoke a substantial US military response, a possible signal the administration was looking for rationale to calm the tensions.

Iran fired a number of missiles aimed at the bases in retaliation for the American strike that killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani last week, further escalating tensions between the two countries. Officials have said there were no US casualties as a result of the attacks, though a full assessment is underway.

Iranian missiles also landed close to the US consulate in Erbil, but didn't target the consulate itself, though the belief is that they could have.

'We could have done it and we didn't do it,' is the message Iranians appeared to be sending, a State Department official said.

The US gave Iran the 'opportunity to do what they needed to do and not escalate by killing Americans,' the official said, suggesting how the administration could frame the retaliation. This was 'a smart move' by the Iranians who demonstrated that they had 'more to lose' if they killed Americans.

In remarks to the nation Wednesday morning, President Donald Trump signaled a de-escalation of tensions between the US and Iran.

'Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world,' Trump said, striking a somber tone in a speech at the White House.

Now, the major question is if Iranian proxies follow suit, the official explained. Pompeo is 'pragmatic' right now and the general sentiment Tuesday night was 'let's take a breath.'

There were no additional moves taken overnight to add any more protection to US diplomatic facilities abroad.

Iraq received 'an official verbal message' from Iran about the missile attack shortly before midnight on Wednesday, according to a statement from Iraq's Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi. He said Iraq was told that the strike would be 'limited to the whereabouts of the US military in Iraq, without giving the exact location.'

Trump's decision to kill Soleimani, one of Iran's most powerful men, has touched off a fresh crisis between the US and Iran. Following the strike, Pompeo and other top officials had said US wants to de-escalate the crisis, but Trump on Saturday vowed specific military action against Iran if it 'strikes any Americans, or American assets.'

This story and its headline have been updated to include additional reporting.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 156868

Reported Deaths: 3851
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto10409104
Hinds10279202
Harrison7313112
Jackson6566128
Rankin5887106
Lee529496
Madison5014107
Forrest389786
Jones369088
Lauderdale3594147
Lafayette338253
Washington3246108
Lamar297850
Oktibbeha252362
Lowndes247064
Bolivar244384
Panola232653
Neshoba2249121
Marshall222851
Leflore208591
Monroe206778
Pontotoc204231
Lincoln197366
Sunflower192655
Warren180258
Tate177751
Union171926
Copiah167940
Pike165359
Yazoo160140
Scott159430
Itawamba157635
Alcorn155628
Pearl River155368
Coahoma152743
Simpson152653
Prentiss151331
Adams144752
Grenada143345
Leake139744
Holmes133461
Covington128639
Tippah128430
George128325
Winston125526
Hancock124341
Wayne121323
Marion119446
Attala119334
Tishomingo112443
Chickasaw109432
Newton108229
Tallahatchie98127
Clay94727
Clarke93653
Jasper85223
Stone80615
Calhoun78713
Walthall77629
Montgomery76926
Carroll74115
Lawrence73814
Smith73216
Yalobusha73128
Noxubee72717
Perry68326
Tunica62619
Greene61522
Jefferson Davis59017
Claiborne58916
Amite56615
Humphreys54719
Benton50018
Quitman5007
Webster46714
Kemper45018
Wilkinson40522
Jefferson37112
Choctaw3617
Franklin3555
Sharkey32417
Issaquena1204
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 252900

Reported Deaths: 3638
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson33526501
Mobile20103365
Madison13723151
Tuscaloosa13366154
Montgomery12552236
Shelby1079677
Baldwin9051137
Lee787266
Morgan696451
Calhoun6598121
Etowah656167
Marshall647357
Houston541038
DeKalb498137
Cullman462443
St. Clair441956
Limestone440445
Lauderdale426754
Elmore421164
Walker3735111
Talladega370157
Jackson340423
Colbert332042
Blount306140
Autauga281842
Franklin257434
Coffee250015
Dale239054
Dallas231532
Chilton228939
Russell22663
Covington225034
Escambia202331
Tallapoosa187291
Chambers182750
Pike161514
Clarke161019
Marion144736
Winston137523
Lawrence133436
Pickens126518
Geneva12508
Marengo123424
Bibb120418
Barbour118911
Butler118642
Randolph105522
Cherokee105124
Hale98131
Fayette94616
Washington93219
Clay92824
Henry8896
Monroe83011
Lowndes80929
Cleburne78814
Macon75522
Crenshaw72230
Bullock70119
Lamar7018
Conecuh70014
Perry6916
Wilcox64818
Sumter58622
Greene43518
Choctaw43114
Coosa3664
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Broken Clouds
37° wxIcon
Hi: 54° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 32°
Columbus
Overcast
38° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 32°
Oxford
Overcast
41° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 38°
Starkville
Overcast
37° wxIcon
Hi: 51° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 37°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather