Iran fired a series of ballistic missiles that hit two air bases used by United States troops in Iraq early morning local time Wednesday, in what appeared to be the first retaliatory strikes by Tehran for the killing of one of its top generals.
“At approximately 5:30 p.m. (EST) on January 7, Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles against U.S. military and coalition forces in Iraq… and targeted at least two Iraqi military bases hosting U.S. military and coalition personnel at Al-Assad and Irbil,” Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement.
Last week, at the orders of President Donald Trump, the US killed the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ elite Quds Force, Qasem Soleimani, in a targeted airstrike in Baghdad. Iran vowed “harsh revenge.”
The IRGC confirmed Wednesday that it launched “tens of surface-to-surface ballistic missiles” in the name of Soleimani.
“We warn the Great Satan, the bloodthirsty and arrogant regime of the US, that any new wicked act or more moves and aggressions (against Iran) will bring about more painful and crushing responses,” the IRGC said in a statement carried by Iranian state media, which added that the IRGC urged for the recall of US forces from the region to avoid further loss of US life.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif later said the attack was in self-defense.
“Iran took & 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,” he said on Twitter.
“We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression,” he added.
Trump, who according to White House correspondents was seen meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper after news of the attack, later issued a tweet saying “All is well!”
“Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good! We have the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world, by far!” he said, adding that he would make a statement in the morning.
A police source in the province of Al Anbar and another source in the Iraqi Army confirmed to EFE that at least 13 missiles hit the Al Asad military base.
The police source said several missiles were launched against that base located in the area of Al Bagdadi, west of the provincial capital Ramadi, but the damage caused by the impact was unknown.
The Iraqi Army source said that 13 missiles hit Al Asad and explosions were heard within the perimeter of the base, but could not confirm any casualties.
The Pentagon had said that “in recent days and in response to Iranian threats and actions, the Department of Defense has taken all appropriate measures to safeguard our personnel and partners.”
“These bases have been on high alert due to indications that the Iranian regime planned to attack our forces and interests in the region,” Hoffman added.
House Speaker and Democrat Nancy Pelosi said she was “closely monitoring the situation.”
“We must ensure the safety of our service members, including ending needless provocations from the Administration and demanding that Iran cease its violence. America & world cannot afford war,” she added. EFE-EPA
MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang confirmed Friday that the Philippines has started the process of terminating the Visiting Forces Agreement with the United States, a day after President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to end the deal if it does not reverse the cancellation of Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa’s visa.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the president issued the termination order Thursday night despite giving a month for the US to restore the senator’s visa.
Panelo said the order has already been relayed to Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. as well as Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez.
“I just talked with Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin, and he said that he will start with the process and he called up already the vice chair and they talked, and Ambassador Romualdez has already been informed, I was also talking to him earlier,” he said.
In a tweet on Friday, Locsin confirmed he and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana have taken the first step in ending the 1998 deal with the US government.
Locsin sits as the chairperson of the Commission on Visiting Forces while Lorenzana serves as vice chairman.
“Del Lorenzana and I- as Vice and Chair of USVFA – are starting the process of terminating it by first contacting the Senate because it is a treaty on our side, an executive agreement on the US side. I’m leaving for Washington on a totally unrelated matter,” he wrote on his Twitter account.
Lorenzana, for his part, refrained from commenting into Duterte’s latest pronouncement.
“Will study it first,” he said in a message to reporters. “No comment muna. Too soon to comment.”
The VFA is a bilateral accord between Washington and Manila that came into force in 1999. It outlines the guidelines about the treatment of their troops when visiting the US or the Philippines. It includes provisions on visa and passport policies for US troops and the American government’s right to retain jurisdiction over its personnel, among others.
The deal may be terminated by either of the two countries by writing to the other party signifying their intent to end the agreement. Its expiration will come 180 days from the date of notification. – RRD (with details from Correspondents Rosalie Coz & Lea Ylagan)
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte can terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States (US) even without the concurrence of the Senate, Malacañang said on Friday.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo issued the statement after the president threatened to scrap the VFA if the US government does not reverse the cancellation of Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa’s visa.
“Because it (VFA) is an executive agreement so he can cancel it without the approval of the Senate,” Panelo said.
Dela Rosa on Wednesday confirmed to media that he is not allowed to travel to the US for now after he received notification about his visa cancellation.
The senator said the exact reason on why his US visa was cancelled remains unclear but he heard reports it might be linked to the Duterte administration’s war on drugs that he spearheaded when he was the chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) from 2016 to 2018.
The VFA, signed by Manila and Washington in 1998, is a bilateral deal which outlines the guidelines for the conduct of government troops when they are visiting the US or the Philippines.
Panelo said the US government should not intervene with the Philippines’ internal issues.
The Palace official also believes the president’s threat to cancel the VFA will not affect Filipino workers in the US. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)
Washington – United States President Donald Trump’s government announced on Thursday it will restrict tourist visas for pregnant foreign women visiting the country.
The measure will come into effect on Friday in a bid to stop “birth tourism,” a practice of taking trips to the US to obtain American citizenship for children born there.
The State Department will no longer issue temporary visitor (B-1/B-2) visas to anyone it suspects of trying to carry out “birth tourism”.
“This rule change is necessary to enhance public safety, national security, and the integrity of our immigration system,” the White House press secretary said in a statement.
According to the US Constitution, people born in the United States have the right to citizenship, even if their relatives are not citizens.
At 21 years of age, these people have the right to request the legal permanent residence of their relatives, something that critics of the system have described as “chain immigration”.
“The birth tourism industry threatens to overburden valuable hospital resources and is rife with criminal activity, as reflected in Federal prosecutions,” the White House added.
“Closing this glaring immigration loophole will combat these endemic abuses and ultimately protect the United States from the national security risks created by this practice.”
It continued: “It will also defend American taxpayers from having their hard-earned dollars siphoned away to finance the direct and downstream costs associated with birth tourism.
“The integrity of American citizenship must be protected.”
The statement did not provide figures on the number of “birth tourism” cases, the costs that this practice may incur for the economy, nor did it explain how it threatens national security.
The US government issued 5.7 million B1 and B2 visas in the 2018 fiscal year.
Anti-immigration think tank the Center for Immigration Studies estimated that every year there are about 20,000 deliveries of women who arrived in the country on tourist visas and then left the US.
The US government admits 1.1 million immigrants every year and 79 per cent of legal immigration is based on family reunification, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
Chain visas have been the main source of legal immigration for people with low education, which has depressed wages and employment opportunities for US workers with the same levels of training, according to the department. EFE-EPA
UNTV is a major TV broadcast network with 24-hour programming. An Ultra High Frequency station with strong brand content that appeal to everyone, UNTV is one of the most trusted and successful Philippine networks that guarantees wholesome and quality viewing experience.