The claim that there were supposedly 30 U.S. casualties in Iraq from Iranian missile strikes trended on social media. What’s the truth? Actually, the number of casualties hasn’t been confirmed, but U.S. and Iraqi officials have said there are no reports of deaths, at least initially, from the missiles. “No Americans were harmed in last night’s attack by the Iranian regime. We suffered no casualties. All of our soldiers are safe,” President Donald Trump said in an address to the nation on January 8, 2020.
“No American or Iraqi lives were lost because of the precautions taken… and an early warning system that worked very well,” said Trump. The Guardian reported that the Iranians gave Iraq advance notice of the attack.
Here’s a live feed of President Trump’s expected address to the nation on the morning of January 8, 2020.
“No U.S. casualties in Iraq after missile strike from Iran, but assessment still ongoing: officials,” Lucas Tomlinson, Pentagon reporter for Fox News, also reported. In the morning of January 8, CNN was still reporting, “no casualties have been reported” from the missile strikes. USA Today also reported no casualties. According to NBC News, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said in a statement that he had not received reports of any casualties among U.S.-led coalition forces or Iraqis.
Shortly after news broke of the missile strikes, a 176-person passenger plane owned by Ukrainian Airlines crashed on takeoff at Tehran airport. It’s not yet clear whether there’s any link to the missile strikes. You can read about the plane crash here.
What is true is that the Iranian government, seeking to avenge the death by America of General Qassem Soleimani, launched missiles against two Iraqi bases, and there are U.S. troops there. “It is clear that these missiles were launched from Iran and targeted at least two Iraqi military bases hosting U.S. military and coalition personnel,” the Pentagon said in a statement given to NBC.
However, CNN reported that, although damage and casualties are still being assessed, there appears to be no Iraqi casualties, either. The network’s Shimon Prokupecz reported: “Iraqi security officials are now telling CNN there are no casualties among Iraqi security forces following the attacks on the al-Asad airbase in Anbar province and the attacks in Erbil.”
General Jonathan Vance, the top Canadian general, wrote on Twitter that there were no Canadian casualties, either. “CAF families: I can assure you that all deployed CAF personnel are safe & accounted for following missile attacks in Iraq. We remain vigilant,” he wrote.
Prokupecz added: “The initial assessment is that the Iranian missiles struck areas of the al-Asad base not populated by Americans, according to a US military official and a senior administration official.”
The New York Times reported that “There were no immediate reports of casualties.”
Here’s what you need to know:
The 30 Casualties Claim Derives from Iranian State TV, According to an NBC Bureau Chief
Where did the 30 casualties report come from? It appears to have started on MSNBC, when a Tehran bureau chief said Iranian state television made the unconfirmed claim (in other words, propaganda).
You can see that video above.
Here’s what Ali Arouzi, NBC News Tehran Bureau Chief, said on MSNBC: “We’re just getting reports now that a second wave of rocket attacks have been launched from Iran… Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of this country, was in the control center, coordinating these attacks. This bit I am not sure about but Iran State media is claiming that 30 U.S. soldiers have been killed in this attack. This is not confirmed. This is just coming from Iranian media. But we have stepped over the precipice, Chris. We have entered a very unpredictable time.”
President Trump Says ‘Assessment of Casualties’ Is Still Taking Place
President Donald Trump was initially said to be planning a possible statement in the Oval Office. Instead, he says he will give a statement on Wednesday January 8, 2020. Then he tweeted, “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.”
Alyssa Farrah, the press secretary for the U.S. Department of Defense, provided this information on Twitter:
“At approx 1730EST on 1/7, Iran launched at least a dozen ballistic missiles against US military &coalition forces in Iraq. It’s clear these missiles were launched from Iran & targeted at least 2 Iraqi military bases hosting US military &coalition personnel at Al-Assad & Irbil. We are working on initial battle damage assessments. In recent days and in response to Iranian threats and actions, the @DeptofDefense has taken all appropriate measures to safeguard our personnel and partners. These bases have been on high alert due to indications that the Iranian regime planned to attack our forces & interests in the region. As we evaluate the situation & our response, we will take all necessary measures to protect & defend U.S. personnel, partners, & allies in the region.”
The term “30 US” trended even though the reports were not verified, and false, by initial reports: