Stanford professor hopeful for de-escalation following Iran missile strikes on US military facilities

PALO ALTO, Calif. (KGO) -- Iran struck back at the United States for the killing of a top Iranian general early Wednesday, firing a series of ballistic missiles at two Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops in a major escalation that brought the two longtime foes closer to war.

Iranian state TV said it was in revenge for the U.S. killing of Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani, whose death last week in an American drone strike near Baghdad prompted angry calls to avenge his slaying.

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The strikes, which came as Iran buried Soleimani, raised fears that the two longtime foes were closer to war. But there were some indications that there would not be further retaliation on either side, at least in the short term.

Back here in the Bay Area, several local officials are hopeful for de-escalation after the recent missile strikes.

"The choice of these two bases to me indicate they want to have a retaliation but they don't want to have a retaliation that will force Trump to attack in a much larger basis in Iran," said Stanford Professor Abbas Milani.

Milani is one of the founding co-director of the Iran Democracy Project and the director of Iranian Studies at Stanford. He's been studying the region for decades.

"The Iranian regime wants to retaliate to show they are still a contender but I don't think they want a full confrontation, my hope is that the President of the United States also doesn't want a full confrontation," said Milani.

Hamid Azimi and Peymaneh Shafi are members of the Iranian-American community of Northern California. Both still have friends and family in Iran.

"I want the President to acknowledge the Iranian people and the Iraqi people and the Lebanese people who are protesting against this regime," said Shafi.

"I'm glad that I have this chance in this country to speak my mind and talk about my brothers and sisters in Iran, the young kids in the streets who can't do the same thing," said Azimi.

RELATED: Bay Area Arab, Persian communities fear escalating Middle East violence following Soleimani death

Azimi and Shafi hit the streets of downtown San Francisco over the weekend, along with dozens of their community members in support of the Iranian general's killing, while thousands more marched to denounce the attack, concerned about a full-blown war.

"A regional war I think is possible, WWIII is highly exaggerated and I think a regional war might still be averted if there's no loss of lives in these attacks," said Milani.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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