Home Middle East & Turkey Iran UK condemns Iran missile attack and puts military on standby in the...

UK condemns Iran missile attack and puts military on standby in the Gulf

Britain on Wednesday condemned Iran's missile attacks on Iraqi bases housing coalition military and put the Royal Navy and military helicopters on standby amid rising tensions in the Middle East. On the prospect of a UK military strike on Iran, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said he was "not going to rule out anything".

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Britain on Wednesday condemned Iran’s missile attacks on Iraqi bases housing coalition military, and voiced concern over “reports of casualties” from the strikes.

“We condemn this attack on Iraqi military bases hosting Coalition – including British – forces,” said Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.

“We are concerned by reports of casualties and use of ballistic missiles.”

Iran fired missiles overnight at Iraqi bases housing the US and British military, officials in Washington and Tehran said.

It was the first act of the Islamic republic’s promised revenge for the US killing of top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani last week.

Launched from Iranian territory and by Iranian forces not a proxy, the attack marked a new turn in the intensifying confrontation between the United States and Iran.

Read more: US allies retreat from Iraq as Iran responds with vengeance

The Pentagon said it was still “working on initial battle damage assessments” after more than a dozen ballistic missiles were launched, with no immediate reports on casualties.

The Iraqi military said it sustained no casualties in 22 missile strikes on bases housing US troops.

Raab urged Iran to show restraint going forward.

The UK has put the Royal Navy and military helicopters on standby amid rising tensions in the Middle East, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has said

“We urge Iran not to repeat these reckless and dangerous attacks, and instead to pursue urgent de-escalation,” he added.

“A war in the Middle East would only benefit Daesh and other terrorist groups,” Raab said, referring to the Islamic State group.

UK ships on standby 

The UK has put the Royal Navy and military helicopters on standby amid rising tensions in the Middle East, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has said.

The government was putting in place “urgent measures” to protect British nationals and interests in the region, Mr Wallace told the House of Commons.

He said non-essential UK personnel had also been moved out of Baghdad. Mr Wallace, answering questions from MPs on the growing crisis, reiterated the government’s calls for all sides to “de-escalate”.

But hours after his statement, the US Department of Defence said an airbase housing US troops in Iraq had been hit by more than a dozen ballistic missiles.

Read more: Iran attacks American Base: Will Trump respond?

Iranian state TV said the attack was in retaliation to Soleimani’s death. The Ministry of Defence said all British service personnel in Iraq had been accounted for and there were no British casualties following the attacks.

And a government spokesperson said: “Our first priority continues to be the security of British personnel.” There are around 400 UK troops stationed in Iraq, primarily to assist in defeating IS.

When asked earlier on Tuesday about the prospect of a UK military strike on Iran, Mr Wallace said he was “not going to rule out anything”.

The Iraqi military said it sustained no casualties in 22 missile strikes on bases housing US troops.

He said if British citizens or armed service personnel were killed by Iranian actions the UK’s response “would no doubt be proportionate”.

“The UK will do what it has to do to defend its persons, its citizens and wherever it needs to do that. That is our duty.”

The defence secretary also said the Department for Transport was reviewing its advice to British shipping on a daily basis, while “a small team” had been sent to the region to provide assistance with “situational awareness and contingency planning”.

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