Hours after Iran fired 15 ballistic missiles at two military bases housing American and coalition troops in Iraq, the Iranian envoy to India has said his country has "retaliated not from behind, but from the front" against the killing of its top commander in an airstrike by the US last week.
"Actually, every Iranian is happy... It (missile strikes) wasn't something we did from behind, but from the front. We retaliated because we were not the beginner. We retaliated only in defence based on our people's demand," Iran's envoy to India, Ali Chegini, told NDTV today.
"The strikes were also to say to any attacker including Americans that the Iranian government and people never hesitate to defend their legitimate rights," Mr Chegini said.
There was no immediate suggestion of any link to the missile strikes but a Ukrainian Boeing passenger plane crashed shortly after take-off from Iran's capital Tehran this morning, killing all 176 on board.
"That's sad news that I heard, a civil flight fell down. I don't see right now any more information about that, but I don't see any relationship for that (with missile strikes). We should see the results to be verified by the technician people," Mr Chegini said.
The missile attacks marked a new turn in the intensifying confrontation between the US and Iran and sent world oil prices soaring. A US drone strike last week killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, one of the most important figures in the country's government.
"We hope that it (attacks) won't be needed to be repeated. But if anyhow they repeat it, this won't be the last one from us. I hope it won't be repeated from both sides," the envoy said.
US President Donald Trump, who visited the al-Asad base - hit by Iranian missiles today - with First Lady Melania Trump in December 2018, said initial assessments indicated "all is well." He tweeted that "assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good!"
India has been a traditional ally of Iran and had managed to work around US sanctions on purchase of Iranian oil for a while. The imports stopped in May last year.