Iran’s UN ambassador said Friday the Iraqi bases housing US troops were primarily selected for this week’s missile strikes to demonstrate target accuracy, not to kill Americans, disputing public claims made by top Trump administration officials.
Vice President Mike Pence has said the administration believes the strikes “were intended to kill Americans,” though some administration officials have suggested to CNN that although Iran could have directed their missiles to hit areas that were populated by Americans, they intentionally did not. There were no US casualties as a result of the attacks.
“We said before we took our military action that we would choose the timing and the place, and we chose the place where the attack against (Iranian general Qasem) Soleimani was initiated,” Ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi told CNN’s John Berman on “New Day” Friday when asked about Pence’s comments. “And we do not consider a high number of casualties as an instrumental element in our calculations.”
When pressed as to whether they tried to avoid killing Americans, Ravanchi said that he could not describe exactly what happened.
“I’m not a military man, I cannot tell you exactly what was going on. But what I can tell you is that the target was chosen in order to show that we are capable of hitting the target where the plan to kill Soleimani was organized,” he said, adding that “we are not interested, we are not looking after killing Americans within this operation.”
Ravanchi also indicated that while the strikes “concluded that phase of our military action against the US forces,” Iran would not be ensuring that groups — such as Hezbollah or Iraqi militias loyal to the country — will stand down barring further US action.
“We are not responsible for any action that others might take,” he said. “It is not our job to say that this gentleman or that gentleman should do this or should not do this.”
When pressed on whether Iran would not ask Iraqi militias to refrain from attacking Americans, Ravanchi replied, “It is not our job to ask this group or that group — we are responsible for whatever action we take.”
Last week’s US strike that killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani sharply escalated tensions between the two longtime adversaries, culminating in this week’s missile attacks on the Iraqi bases. President Donald Trump has since indicated a de-escalation of the crisis, though he has promised a further ratcheting up of economic sanctions against Iran.