Iran deliberately failed to hit US military targets in Iraq missile attack for fear of escalating conflict with Donald Trump, intelligence sources reveal

Iran has launched what it promised would be a 'crushing revenge' strike against the US over the death of General Soleimani - but succeeded only in damaging two airbases in neighbouring Iraq.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps fired 22 ballistic missiles at the Ain al-Asad airbase in western Iraq and Erbil International airport in the north in the early hours of Wednesday but failed to kill a single US or Iraqi solider.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, speaking on Iranian TV shortly after the missiles were launched, described the strikes as 'a slap' and said they 'are not sufficient (for revenge)' while vowing further action to kick US troops out of the region.

But foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the attack was now 'concluded', praising Iran's 'proportionate' response and adding: 'We do not seek escalation or war.'

President Donald Trump is expected to make his own statement on the attacks at 11am Wednesday EST, but tweeted late Tuesday to say 'so far so good' and 'all is well 'as American forces assessed the damage. 
The Ain al-Asad airbase in western Iraq and the Erbil base in Iraqi Kurdistan were both struck by the missiles on Tuesday at about 5.30pm (EST)
Iranian television had tried to claim that 80 'American terrorists' were killed, but that figure was quickly rubbished by Iraqi and US officials.

Images showed several missiles had either failed to explode on impact or else missed their targets.  The remains of one was found near the town of Duhok, some 70 miles from Erbil air base, which was the intended target.

In an attempt to talk-up the impact of the strikes, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said they show 'we don't retreat in the face of America.'

'If America has committed a crime... it should know that it will receive a decisive response,' Rouhani said in a televised address. 'If they are wise, they won't take any other action at this juncture.'

It is thought Iran gave advanced warning of the strikes, after Iraq, Finland and Lithuania - which all had troops stationed at the bases which were targeted - all said they were informed in advance.

America said that 'early warning systems' detected the missile launches and sirens were sounded at the Asad base, allowing soldiers to seek shelter. It is not clear whether they were also informed by Iran.

Prominent analysts suggested Iran may have deliberately pulled its punches because they are fearful of the 'disproportionate' response threatened by Trump if US personnel were killed.

'With the attacks, Tehran signalled its capacity and readiness to respond to US attacks, thus saving face, and yet they have been well targeted to avoid fatalities and thus avoid provoking Trump's reaction,' said Annalisa Perteghella of the Institute for International Political Studies in Milan.

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