US Soldiers and Journalists Arrive to Al Asad Air Base in Iraq By Helicopter

The journalists arrived to the military base for a press tour. The air base houses U.S. troops along with U.S.-led coalition troops that are fighting remnants of the Islamic State terror group.

Al Asad air base was one of the sites targeted by Iranian missiles Wednesday, Jan. 8, in retaliation to the targeted killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, head of Iran’s Quds Force, an attack personally ordered by Trump.

Soleimani, who directed operations that have led to the killing of hundreds of American soldiers in Iraq and untold thousands of civilian deaths across the Middle East, was generally considered the second-most-powerful figure in the Iranian government.

As a result of the Iranian missile strikes, a Ukrainian jetliner with 176 travelers on board was mistakenly hit by Iran outside Tehran. By the weekend, it had become clear that nervous Iranian air defense forces, on alert for U.S. retaliation after the strikes in Iraq, shot down the plane by accident, a fact that Iran admitted Saturday.

The United States announced Friday morning that it would impose new economic sanctions on Iran. These would come on top of existing penalties that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has described as the most punishing the U.S. has ever levied on another country.

Many Democratic lawmakers and some Republicans complained that Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other senior administration officials have misled Congress and the public in arguing that Soleimani had posed an “imminent” threat. In Tehran on Saturday, the ambassador of Britain was arrested and held for several hours after attending a vigil for the 176 people killed in the attack on the Ukrainian airliner.

The highly unusual step by Iran was accompanied by accusations that the diplomat incited street protests against the Iranian regime, a charge the British government denied. Within the U.S., the collective response to the unfolding crisis in the Middle East has brought unease about where all this will end.