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Iran Disabled US Monitoring Systems During Missile Attack, IRGC Commander Claims

TV grab - Revolutionary Guards Aerospace Commander Amir-Ali Hajizadeh during his televised press conference. January 9, 2020
TV grab - Revolutionary Guards Aerospace Commander Amir-Ali Hajizadeh during his televised press conference. January 9, 2020

Iran's Chief of the Revolutionary Guards Aerospace Force claimed in a televised press conference on Thursday that Iran had carried out a cyberattack against U.S. monitoring systems minutes after launching its ballistic missiles on Tuesday and disabled U.S. drones.

The missiles targeted two military bases housing U.S. and other coalition troops in Iraq.

Elaborating on the cyberattack General Amir Ali Hajizadeh said: "An enormous electronic war operation was carried out 15 minutes after the attack and they lost their control on their UAV's for a few minutes. This inflicted a huge psychological blow to them and perplexed them," Tasnim News Agency reported him as saying.The United States has not reported in cyber disruption during the attack. Instead, officials have said that the warning systems worked properly and troops had time to seek shelter in reinforced bunkers.

The Revolutionary Guards Aerospace Commander also said that Iran did not seek to kill anyone in the operation but at the same time repeated unsubstantiated claims about American casualties saying "tens were obviously killed or wounded".

"We could plan the operation to kill 500 during the first stage and if they had responded to the attack they would have had 4 to 5,000 casualties," he said and claimed that the Americans wounded in the attack had been flown to Jordan, Israel and Baghdad.

The Revolutionary Guard commander said the aim of the missile attack was to “strike the enemy's military machine and command and control center" and claimed that the main building of the U.S. command center at Al-Asad base was destroyed by the Iranian missiles.

Hajizadeh also said the missile attack dubbed "Soleimani Operation" was the commencement of a great operation which "will continue in the whole region". Hajizadeh's televised remarks showed him standing in front of a row of flags representing Iran's proxy forces in the Middle east.

According to the Revolutionary Guards affiliated Tasnim News Agency on Thursday Abdollah Araqi (Araghi), the Security Chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Headquarters, also said the United States should know that "Iran will take harsh revenge and they should be expecting more blows from the revolutionary Guards”.

On Wednesday U.S. President Donald Trump suggested that he would not retaliate militarily for Iran's missile strike on the bases in Iraq. Trump's remarks, as well as remarks by other senior officials including Vice President Mike Pence, were interpreted as winding down of the standoff between Iran and the United States.

Pence said the Iran-backed militias in Iraq known as the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) which had also vowed to take revenge appeared to be standing down after the Iranian missile strike.

"We're receiving some encouraging intelligence that Iran is sending messages to those very same militias not to move against American targets or civilians, and we hope that that message continues to echo not to move forward,” Pence told CBS News in an interview.

Rouhani meanwhile spoke by phone Thursday with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, urging Britain to denounce the killing of Soleimani.

Without Soleimani's efforts leading forces in Syria and Iraq against IS, “you would not have peace and security in London today,” Rouhani was quoted as saying by Vice President Alireza Moezi, who tweeted about the call with Boris Johnson.

Downing Street confirmed the call, saying Johnson called for "an end to hostilities" in the Gulf. It said the U.K. stands by the nuclear deal and is urging Iran to return to full compliance.

Additional reporting by AP and Reuters