The Al Assad base, one of the facilities with US troops in Iraq attacked on Tuesday by the Iranian regime, was used by US forces for the first time after the 2003 invasion in which dictator Saddam Hussein was overthrown, and subsequently they returned there to fight the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.
There are about 1,500 US coalition troops stationed there.
On December 26, 2018, President Donald Trump and his wife Melania visited the soldiers housed at the base.
On November 23, 2019, Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen visited the troops before Thanksgiving.
The base was built between 1981 and 1987 and until the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the base housed three units of the Iraqi Air Force, which flew the MiG-25 and MiG-21.
It was abandoned shortly after the start of the invasion. Initially it was known as Qadisiyah Base, and finally it was renamed Al Assad Air Base, which means “The Lion” in Arabic.
The last civilian personnel was transferred by air from Al Assad on December 16, 2011, and the base officially closed on December 31, 2011.
In 2014, a group of Navy special forces returned to fight against the Islamic State in support to the Iraqi forces.
On Tuesday, the base was attacked by Iranian land-to-ground missile missiles, in an operation called “Martyr Soleimani,” according to Iranian television.
State television said the attack was in revenge for the death of General of the Revolutionary Guard Qassem Soleimani, whose funeral on Tuesday gave rise to calls to avenge his death, which dramatically increased tensions in the Middle East.
He added that the aerospace division of the Revolutionary Guard, which controls Iran’s missile program, launched the attack.
Around 70 Norwegian soldiers were at the air base, but no one had been reported injured, Brynjar Stordal, a spokesman for the Norwegian Armed Forces, told The Associated Press during a telephone interview.
Subsequently, the Revolutionary Guards of Iran warned the United States and its regional allies not to retaliate for the missile attack on the Al Assad air base, according to a statement released by the state news agency IRNA.
“We are warning all American allies, who gave their bases to their terrorist army, that any territory that is the starting point for aggressive acts against Iran will be attacked,” said the Revolutionary Guard, which also threatened Israel.