Iran Missile Attack: Retaliation Aimed at U.S. Forces in Iraq

Wednesday, January 8, 2020
Iran missile attack on US bases.

Map of bases targeted in Iran's retaliatory missile attack on U.S. bases in Iraq

Iran Missile Attack: Conflict Escalates Following Death of Soleimani

Trigger Warning: This resource contains sensitive content. Please review thoroughly to determine if this is right for your individual classroom.

Watch the video and answer the questions below. You can turn on the “CC” (closed-captions) function and read along with the transcript here. For additional background on Iran and General Soleimani, use this NewsHour Extra lessonTeacher’s note: We suggest you stop the video at 5m:43s for the sake of time. 



Iran Missile Attack: Evaluating Responses

Early Wednesday, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard launched 15 missiles at air bases in Iraq that house American and other international troops.

Iranian state TV reported that the strikes were in retaliation for last week’s killing of General Qassem Soleimani, a top Iranian general. There were no immediate reports of casualties, according to two Iraqi officials.

Soleimani’s killing and the strikes by Iran follow an increase in tensions across the Middle East in the last few years after President Donald Trump’s decided to unilaterally withdraw the U.S. from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers. The deal was intended to avoid Iran building a nuclear weapons program.

Iran’s foreign minister said a ballistic missile attack was a “proportionate measures in self-defense” and said it did not wish to escalate the situation but rather defend itself against any aggression.

‘All is well!’ President Donald Trump tweeted shortly after the missile attacks, adding, ‘So far, so good’ regarding casualties.

Ain al-Asad air base houses about 1,500 U.S. and coalition forces, including 70 Norwegian troops.


Secretary of State Pompeo discusses the Iran missile attack on U.S. bases in Iraq

Secretary of State Pompeo discusses the Iran missile atatck on U.S. bases in Iraq


Iran Missile Attack: Discussion Questions

  1. Focus question: What actions did Iran take in retaliation for the U.S. killing of General Qassem Soleimani?
  2. Why did the U.S. kill Soleimani? (see this lesson if time allows)
  3. What effects might follow the death of Soleimani and Iran’s attack on the airbase?
  4. Do you think Iran was justified in launching a ballistic missile attack? Was the U.S. justified in the killing of Soleimani? Explain.
  5. One of Soleimani’s role as a general was to seek the removal of U.S. troops from the region. How might his death affect whether or not American troops stay in the Middle East?
  6. Media literacy: What questions do you have following this report? Was enough information given from the U.S. government’s perspective? How about the American public? What perspective did you hear on Iran’s behalf?
  7. Media literacy: Further along in the segment, the NewsHour interviewed  two experts on Iran, Mara Karlin of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and the Hudson Institute’s Michael Doran. What perspectives or biases do these individuals hold? Who else would you like to have heard from? What do you think of the back and forth nature of the interview with the experts? What makes for a good conversation about a very complicated topic?

Iran Missile Attack: Extension Activity

Read Groups demand answers after Iranians say they were detained on U.S.-Canada border. Watch this Associated Press video, if time allows. 

This article was originally published by PBS NewsHour Extra and can be found here.