Iran claims its missile strike against U.S. troops was made in 'self-defense' after Trump's 'cowardly' attack

  • Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif claimed his country's missile attacks against Iraqi military bases housing US troops were merely "proportionate measures in self-defense."
  • "Iran took [and] concluded proportionate measures in self-defense under Article 51 of UN Charter targeting base from which cowardly armed attack against our citizens & senior officials were launched," Zarif said on Twitter.
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Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif claimed his country's missile attacks against Iraqi military bases housing US troops were merely "proportionate measures in self-defense."

His statement comes as US officials estimated that around 15 missiles were launched from Iran against two Iraqi bases. There were no US service member casualties reported immediately after the attack, but futher assessments were ongoing, according to a US official who spoke to Business Insider.

"Iran took [and] concluded proportionate measures in self-defense under Article 51 of UN Charter targeting base from which cowardly armed attack against our citizens & senior officials were launched," Zarif said on Twitter.

"We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression," he added.

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Gen. Qassem Soleimani's funeral
Iranian mourners gather during the final stage of funeral processions for slain top general Qasem Soleimani, in his hometown Kerman on January 7, 2020. - Soleimani was killed outside Baghdad airport on January 3 in a drone strike ordered by US President Donald Trump, ratcheting up tensions with arch-enemy Iran which has vowed "severe revenge". The assassination of the 62-year-old heightened international concern about a new war in the volatile, oil-rich Middle East and rattled financial markets. (Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP) (Photo by ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images)
Iranian mourners gather around a vehicle carrying the coffin of slain top general Qasem Soleimani during the final stage of funeral processions, in his hometown Kerman on January 7, 2020. - Soleimani was killed outside Baghdad airport Friday in a drone strike ordered by US President Donald Trump, ratcheting up tensions with arch-enemy Iran which has vowed "severe revenge". The assassination of the 62-year-old heightened international concern about a new war in the volatile, oil-rich Middle East and rattled financial markets. (Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP) (Photo by ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images)
Iranian mourners gather during the final stage of funeral processions for slain top general Qasem Soleimani in his hometown Kerman on January 7, 2020. - Soleimani was killed outside Baghdad airport on January 3 in a drone strike ordered by US President Donald Trump, ratcheting up tensions with arch-enemy Iran which has vowed "severe revenge". The assassination of the 62-year-old heightened international concern about a new war in the volatile, oil-rich Middle East and rattled financial markets. (Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP) (Photo by ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images)
Iranian mourners stand on a bridge during the final stage of funeral processions for slain top general Qasem Soleimani, in his hometown Kerman on January 7, 2020. - Soleimani was killed outside Baghdad airport on January 3 in a drone strike ordered by US President Donald Trump, ratcheting up tensions with arch-enemy Iran which has vowed "severe revenge". The assassination of the 62-year-old heightened international concern about a new war in the volatile, oil-rich Middle East and rattled financial markets. (Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP) (Photo by ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images)
An Iranian mourner holds a placard during the final stage of funeral processions for slain top general Qasem Soleimani, in his hometown Kerman on January 7, 2020. - Soleimani was killed outside Baghdad airport on January 3 in a drone strike ordered by US President Donald Trump, ratcheting up tensions with arch-enemy Iran which has vowed "severe revenge". The assassination of the 62-year-old heightened international concern about a new war in the volatile, oil-rich Middle East and rattled financial markets. (Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP) (Photo by ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images)
Iranian mourners gather during the final stage of funeral processions for slain top general Qasem Soleimani, in his hometown Kerman on January 7, 2020. - Soleimani was killed outside Baghdad airport on January 3 in a drone strike ordered by US President Donald Trump, ratcheting up tensions with arch-enemy Iran which has vowed "severe revenge". The assassination of the 62-year-old heightened international concern about a new war in the volatile, oil-rich Middle East and rattled financial markets. (Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP) (Photo by ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images)
Iranian mourners hold posters of slain top general Qasem Soleimani during the final stage of funeral processions in his hometown Kerman on January 7, 2020. - Soleimani was killed outside Baghdad airport on January 3 in a drone strike ordered by US President Donald Trump, ratcheting up tensions with arch-enemy Iran which has vowed "severe revenge". The assassination of the 62-year-old heightened international concern about a new war in the volatile, oil-rich Middle East and rattled financial markets. (Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP) (Photo by ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images)
An Iranian mourner burns incense during the final stage of funeral processions for slain top general Qasem Soleimani, in his hometown Kerman on January 7, 2020. - Soleimani was killed outside Baghdad airport on January 3 in a drone strike ordered by US President Donald Trump, ratcheting up tensions with arch-enemy Iran which has vowed "severe revenge". The assassination of the 62-year-old heightened international concern about a new war in the volatile, oil-rich Middle East and rattled financial markets. (Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP) (Photo by ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images)
Iranian mourners gather during the final stage of funeral processions for slain top general Qasem Soleimani, in his hometown Kerman on January 7, 2020. - Soleimani was killed outside Baghdad airport Friday in a drone strike ordered by US President Donald Trump, ratcheting up tensions with arch-enemy Iran which has vowed "severe revenge". The assassination of the 62-year-old heightened international concern about a new war in the volatile, oil-rich Middle East and rattled financial markets. (Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP) (Photo by ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images)
Iranian mourners gather around a vehicle carrying the coffin of slain top general Qasem Soleimani during the final stage of funeral processions, in his hometown Kerman on January 7, 2020. - Soleimani was killed outside Baghdad airport Friday in a drone strike ordered by US President Donald Trump, ratcheting up tensions with arch-enemy Iran which has vowed "severe revenge". The assassination of the 62-year-old heightened international concern about a new war in the volatile, oil-rich Middle East and rattled financial markets. (Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP) (Photo by ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images)
Iranian mourners gather during the final stage of funeral processions for slain top general Qasem Soleimani, in his hometown Kerman on January 7, 2020. - Soleimani was killed outside Baghdad airport Friday in a drone strike ordered by US President Donald Trump, ratcheting up tensions with arch-enemy Iran which has vowed "severe revenge". The assassination of the 62-year-old heightened international concern about a new war in the volatile, oil-rich Middle East and rattled financial markets. (Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP) (Photo by ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images)
In this image made from a video, mourners gather to pay their respects to the slain Gen. Qassem Soleimani who was killed in a U.S. airstrike, in Kerman, Iran Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020. (Iran Press via AP)
Mourners walk back from a funeral ceremony for Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani and his comrades, who were killed in Iraq in a U.S. drone attack on Friday, passing a satirical drawing of the Statue of Liberty painted on the wall of the former U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran, Monday, Jan. 6, 2020. Funeral ceremonies for Soleimani drew a crowd said by police to be in the millions, on Monday in Tehran, where his replacement vowed to take revenge. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
Coffins of Gen. Qassem Soleimani and others who were killed in Iraq by a U.S. drone strike, are carried on a truck surrounded by mourners during a funeral procession at the Enqelab-e-Eslami (Islamic Revolution) square in Tehran, Iran, Monday, Jan. 6, 2020. The processions mark the first time Iran honored a single man with a multi-city ceremony. Not even Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who founded the Islamic Republic, received such a processional with his death in 1989. Soleimani on Monday will lie in state at Tehran's famed Musalla mosque as the revolutionary leader did before him. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
In this image taken from video, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, left, openly weeps as he leads a prayer over the coffin of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in Iraq in a U.S. drone strike on Friday, at the Tehran University campus, in Tehran, Iran, Monday, Jan. 6, 2020. (Iran Press TV via AP)
A mourner walk back from a funeral ceremony for Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani and his comrades, who were killed in Iraq in a U.S. drone attack on Friday, passing graffiti on the wall of the former U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran, Monday, Jan. 6, 2020. A push led by pro-Iran factions to oust U.S. troops from Iraq is gaining momentum, bolstered by a Parliament vote in favor of a bill calling on the the government to remove them. But the path forward is unclear. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
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Article 51 of the United Nations' charter says that a member has "the inherent right" to defend itself "if an armed attack occurs ... until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security."

Experts on Article 51 described its terms as "sufficiently vague" and that it is difficult to prove whether military actions between its members would be justified under the article's current definition. Jared Zimmerman, writing last year as a MA candidate at American University's School of International Service, assessed that Article 51 did not answer several questions.

"It does not define what constitutes an armed attack," Zimmerman previously wrote in RealClearDefense. "For example, is a cyber attack an armed attack?"

The missile strike follows a series of moves that have raised tensions between Iran and the US: on Friday local time in Iraq, a US airstrike near Baghdad International Airport killed Iran's elite Quds Force commander, Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani. The US claimed the attack was in response to an "imminent threat" that was perceived from Soleimani.

US officials have yet to submit evidence of their claim against the Iranian general, who is widely accepted to have provided material aid to proxy forces fighting against the US. Following the killing of Soleimani, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed "harsh revenge" against the US.

After Iran's missile strikes, President Donald Trump said in a tweet that "all is well!"

"So far, so good," Trump tweeted, adding that US officials were still assessing the situation. "We have the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world, by far! I will be making a statement tomorrow morning."

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