Britain has urged Iran not to repeat what the foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, described as “reckless and dangerous” attacks after missiles were fired at military bases in Iraq where US and UK troops are stationed.
There were no British casualties as a result of the overnight strikes on bases in Erbil and al-Asad, west of Baghdad, according to the Ministry of Defence.
US authorities have said there were “few, if any” casualties as a result of the missile launches, which Iran carried out as a reprisal for the US killing last week of Qassem Suleimani, the top general of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
Condemning the attacks, Raab said: “We urge Iran not to repeat these reckless and dangerous attacks, and instead to pursue urgent de-escalation.”
“A war in the Middle East would only benefit Daesh and other terrorist groups,” he added, referring to the terror group also known as Islamic State.
Tom Tugendhat, a Conservative MP and former soldier who was chairman of the defence committee during the last parliament, said the Iran attack on US bases was “not hugely surprising”.
He added: “If both sides can declare victory and get back to talking, then that would be extremely welcome.”
Tugendhat told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that he believed it was the first time Iranian ballistic missiles had been fired directly at US bases.
“That is slightly caveating it, because of course the Iranians have been firing missiles via proxy for many, many years,” he said.
About 400 British soldiers are located at three different sites in Iraq – Camp Taji near Baghdad, Union III in Baghdad as well as Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan.
All non-essential personnel have been relocated from Baghdad to Taji as part of steps taken since tensions have ratcheted up since Suleimani’s death.
Other steps have included sending a small British team to the region to help with contingency planning assistance, the House of Commons was told on Tuesday by Ben Wallace, the defence secretary.
Boris Johnson, will face questions from MPs about the crisis on Wednesday when he appears in parliament for his first prime minister’s questions since the general election.
The prime minister has been criticised for the way in which he has reacted, not returning from a holiday on the Caribbean island of Mustique until the weekend. He chaired a meeting of the National Security Council on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the issue and held a cabinet meeting earlier in the day.