There is a growing belief among some Trump administration officials that Iran’s missiles intentionally missed areas populated by Americans when they targeted two Iraqi bases housing US troops early Wednesday local time, multiple administration officials said.
These officials floated the notion that Iran could have directed their missiles to hit areas that are populated by Americans, but intentionally did not.
And they suggested Iran may have chosen to send a message rather than take significant enough action to provoke a substantial US military response, a possible signal the administration was looking for rationale to calm the tensions.
Iranian missiles also landed close to the US consulate in Erbil, but didn’t target the consulate itself, though the belief is that they could have.
“We could have done it and we didn’t do it,” is the message Iranians appeared to be sending, a State Department official said.
This interpretation will be presented to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a briefing early Wednesday, and Pompeo is expected to brief the President at some point later in the day.
Iran fired a number of missiles aimed at the bases in retaliation for the American strike that killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani last week.
Officials have said there were no US casualties as a result of the attacks, though a full assessment is underway.