A dramatic escalation between the United States and Iran appears to have eased, with both rivals seeming to pull back from the verge of a full-blown conflict, even as tensions remain high and experts warn that the confrontation is far from over.

In a White House televised address on Wednesday, Trump  said Iran “appears to be standing down” after it fired more than a dozen missiles at two Iraqi bases housing US troops in retaliation for the US assassination of top Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani.

Trump said there had been no US casualties and damage was “minimal” after the attacks, striking a noticeably different tone than his tweets following the killing of Soleimani in which he threatened to “fully strike back” if Iran struck US citizens or assets in the region.

Rather than announce military action, Trump said the US “will immediately impose additional punishing economic sanctions” while it evaluated “options in response to Iranian aggression”.

During his own televised address earlier on Wednesday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khameini called his country’s missile attack a “slap in the face” for the US but said military retaliation was not sufficient.

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