12:19 GMT20 September 2020
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    Satellite photos taken Wednesday reportedly show that an Iranian missile strike has caused damage to buildings at the Ain al-Assad airbase in Iraq, which hosts US and coalition troops.

    The photos were taken by the commercial company Planet and shared with NPR via the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.

    They show – presumably – at least five hangars and buildings hit by a barrage of Iranian missiles that were fired early Wednesday morning local time. The coordinates on the photos are corresponding with Ain al-Assad airbase coordinates.

    "Some of the locations struck look like the missiles hit dead center," says David Schmerler, an analyst with the Middlebury Institute.
    Satellite images show damage to hangars and buildings in what appears to be a series of precision missile strikes launched by Iran.
    © Photo : Planet Labs Inc./Middlebury Institute
    Satellite images show damage to hangars and buildings in what appears to be a series of precision missile strikes launched by Iran.
    A satellite photo from the commercial company Planet shows damage to at least five structures at the Ain al-Assad air base in Iraq.
    © Photo : Planet Labs Inc./Middlebury Institute
    A satellite photo from the commercial company Planet shows damage to at least five structures at the Ain al-Assad air base in Iraq.

    Schmerler says it is unclear whether targets on the base were chosen to avoid loss of life.

    "The buildings we're tallying now seem to be used for storing aircraft," he says. "There are other structures at the airbase that would be exclusively for people so maybe they intended to strike sites with equipment over people."

    The photos were reportedly taken on the ground some 20 miles (32 km) from the airbase and show the wreckage of two missiles.

    "These appear to be the remnants of a Qiam missile body/airframe," tweeted Michael Elleman, who directs nonproliferation and nuclear policy at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

    The Center for Strategic & International Studies' Missile Defense Project determined the missile to be a Qiam-1 missile - a single-stage, liquid-fueled, short-range ballistic missile capable of carrying a 1,650-pound warhead with a precision guidance system that can be redirected during flight.

    The airstrike on American military facilities in Iraq came as a response from Iran to the killing of top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in a US drone strike ordered by President Donald Trump at Baghdad International Airport on 3 January. While the US has not confirmed sustaining casualties, Iranian media reported that the strike claimed the lives of 80 people.

    Related:

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    US Crude Oil Closes 5% Lower as Trump Refrains From Military Escalation With Iran
    US Stocks Hit Record Highs Amid Perceived De-Escalation of Iran Conflict
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    base, missiles, Iran, USA
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