The age-long rivalry between the United States of America and the Islamic Republic of Iran has once again been renewed and taken an extreme dimension with the assassination of Iran’s military commander, Major General Qassem Soleimani by a US drone strike.
While America’s President, Donald Trump, who ordered the killing of Soleimani without getting approval from the Congress boasted that the strike hit a sworn enemy and arch “terrorist”, the murderer of Americans in Iraq, Iranian Ayatollah Khameini released a strong statement, promising a severe revenge for the strike that also killed Suleimani followers.
The development has since kept observers all over the world in suspense and palpable fear, with many suggesting an imminent second World War, with the threads #WorldWarIII, #IranVsUS trending on Twitter, a microblogging social media platform. Amidst these concerns, the two warring countries continued to issue threats and beat the drum of war.
In what looked like the reality and the beginning of the impending war, Iran fired 15 ballistic missiles at the US-operated Ayn al-Assad airbase in Iraq early morning of Wednesday in retaliation for the death visited upon its military commander by the United States and none of the missiles were intercepted. Iran state media claimed that at least 80 ‘American terrorists’ were perished in the attack, adding that the US military equipments, including choppers, were badly damaged.
But President Trump said in a tweet that an assessment of casualties and damage from the strikes was under way and “All is well!”
Trump who later addressed the nation at the White House on Wednesday however denied the Iranian claims, insisting that the strike caused no American or Iraqi deaths.
He emphasized that no American was wounded or killed by the missiles launched by Iranian military forces. The United States also claimed knowledge of the launching of the ballistic missiles hours before it took place.
As at the time of filing this report on Thursay, January 9, there is no evidence that the strike killed 80 Americans as claimed by the Iranian military forces, but the Middlebury Institute of International Studies and Aurora Intel shared satellite images showing the impact of the Iranian missile strike on the US airbase.
Muslim News Nigeria accessed the Satellite photos of the site which showed that an Iranian missile strike has caused extensive damage at the Ayn al-Assad air base in Iraq, which hosts U.S. and coalition troops. The photos show hangars and buildings hit hard by a barrage of Iranian missiles that were fired.
How true is the claim that no American soldiers in the base were hit by the strike going by the level of damages as seen in the photos? Could this be another propaganda who is playing it? Washington or Tehran?
But, Aljazeera English quoted anonymous US and European government sources familiar with intelligence assessments which argued that Iran is believed to have deliberately sought to avoid US military casualties.
The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Iranians were thought to have targeted the attacks to miss US forces to prevent the crisis from escalating out of control while still sending a message of Iranian resolve.
A source in Washington said overnight that early indications were of no US casualties, while other US officials declined comment, before Trump later officially confirmed it.
In addition, the United States’ President has also declared that he was ready for peace while also threatening an economic sanction against Iran.
Pundits have since been wondering why President Trump who has threatened fire and brimstone has suddenly turned to an Ambassador of Peace and resorting to an economic sanction if no US truly died in the missile attacks.
On the other hand, Iran has described the missile attack as a slap in the face of the US, promising a crushing response if the US dare retaliate again, adding that more needed be done to avenge the murder of Soleimani.
Nevertheless, in all of these, one of the countries is with the truth in the face of this propaganda. There are always three sides to a story, but the truth is usually lying in between. Who is with the truth? Who is misleading the public with propaganda game? Only time will tell!
By Abdullahi Abdulganiy and Abdussalam AbdulBassit