President Donald Trump says Iran appears to be “standing down” and said no Americans or Iraqis were harmed in Iran's Tuesday ballistic missile strike on two Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops.
He spoke to the press on Wednesday in the Grand Foyer at the White House.
The Iranian strikes had come days after Trump authorized the targeted killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran's elite Quds Force.
During his speech, Trump reiterated his position that “Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon.” He added Americans should be “extremely grateful and happy” with the outcome. No Americans were harmed in the strikes and only minimal damage was sustained by the military bases targeted.
A few hours after the strikes, Trump assured in a tweet that "all is well" and said he would be making a statement Wednesday morning.
"Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now," he wrote. "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."
The death of Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani prompted angry calls to avenge his slaying, leading to the missile strike. Trump said during his speech Soleimani should have been terminated "long ago," calling him the "world's top terrorist.
The president said Soleimani had been planning new attacks on American targets in recent days.
Iran's foreign minister tweeted that the country "took & concluded proportionate measures in self-defense." Javad Zarif said they "do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression."
Zarif later told journalists that the next move was up to the U.S.
Late Wednesday morning, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called the missile strike a “slap in the face” of the Americans, and said the U.S. should leave the region.
Iranian president Hassan Rouhani praised Soleimani and said the "final answer to his assassination will be to kick all US forces out of the region."
The Cyprus government meanwhile has approved a U.S. request to temporarily deploy a "rapid reaction" team to help evacuate personnel from U.S. diplomatic missions in nearby countries if needed.
Cyprus government spokesman Kyriakos Koushios said Wednesday the team also will be tasked with evacuating U.S. civilians from the region in the event of an emergency.
Koushios said the east Mediterranean island nation granted permission as part of its long-standing policy to offer assistance to missions of a humanitarian nature following requests from non-European Union member countries.
He said Cyprus has excellent relations with eastern Mediterranean and Middle Eastern nations.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was informed about the attack during a House Democratic meeting and told the members they should pray for the American men and women in the military, according to Representative Debbie Dingell. Pelosi's spokesperson confirmed the speaker was later briefed on the situation by Vice President Mike Pence. A spokesperson for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer confirmed Pence also briefed him.
Officials from several countries condemned the missile strike and called for cooler heads to prevail, seeing this as a chance for both sides to de-escalate.
Several of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates send their prayers to the troops and also urged both sides to let tensions subside.
Just hours before the attack, President Donald Trump seemed to back away from an earlier threat that Iranian cultural sites could be attacked by the U.S. if Iran retaliated for the killing Soleimani.