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Iraq said on Wednesday that it had been notified by Iran that Tehran had launched a retaliatory strike against U.S. troops in Iraq to avenge the killing of top Iranian military commander Qassim Soleimani, while oil majors continue to evacuate personnel out of Iraq.
Amid the tension in the region, China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) evacuated some 20 employees from the West Qurna-1 oilfield in Iraq operated by ExxonMobil, a CNPC source based in Beijing told Reuters on Wednesday.
After the killing of Soleimani, Chevron, too, pulled all of its American oil workers out of Northern Iraq.
Late on Tuesday, which was in the early hours Iraqi time on Wednesday, Iran fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two bases in Iraq housing U.S. troops. Oil prices surged by 4 percent on the news, but had given up most of those gains by early morning U.S. time on Wednesday.
Oil prices had originally surged on Friday, following the assassination of Soleimani, Iran’s most powerful and visible military leader, by U.S. forces in Iraq. The attack was carried out following a direct order from U.S. President Donald Trump and was aimed at ‘deterring future attacks’ on U.S. diplomats and service members throughout the region.
Prices also rose on Monday, but then retreated on Tuesday while the world and investors were waiting for Iran’s response.
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That response came late on Tuesday, with Iran notifying Iraq it would start the retaliatory strike that would be limited to the military bases. The U.S. also notified Iraq that the bases at Ain al-Asad and Irbil were under missile attacks.
Following the Iranian missile attack on U.S. bases in Iraq, U.S. President Donald Trump said “All is well! Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq. Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now.”
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said on Wednesday that “They were slapped last night, but such military actions are not enough. The corruptive presence of the US in the West Asian region must be stopped.”
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said the attack on U.S. troops in Iraq was self-defense and that “We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression.”
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.