Top US General: Iranian Missiles Were Intended ‘to Kill’

The top U.S. general says Iran was intending “to kill” when it fired missiles at Iraq bases used by U.S. forces, contradicting the administration’s general belief that Iran deliberately avoided casualties.

“In my professional assessment, at al-Asad [Airbase] … the points of impact were close enough to personnel and equipment,” Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley said Wednesday. “Based on what I saw and what I know, they were intended to cause structural damage, destroy vehicles and aircraft, and to kill personnel.”

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley arrives to conduct briefings for members of Congress on last week’s targeted killing of Iran’s senior military commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani, Jan. 8, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Milley said early warning systems and what he called “defensive techniques” were the reasons no U.S. or Iraqi troops were hurt.

The overall assessment by the Trump administration so far is that Iran deliberately avoided casualties because it wanted to avoid a more serious military confrontation with the United States.

Milley stressed that his belief about Iran’s true intent was his own assessment. He also said he thought it was “too early to tell” if Iran intended to strike again.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Iran fired 16 missiles — with 11 hitting al-Asad and one falling outside a second airbase in Irbil. Four others failed in midflight.

Most of the damage was to tents, parking lots and airbase taxiways. A U.S. helicopter was also damaged.

Late Wednesday, two rockets were fired into Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, home to a number of foreign embassies, including the U.S. Embassy.

Iraqi officials said no one was hurt and that no one was claiming responsibility yet.