US airstrikes LIVE: Updates as fears of World War 3 erupt after Trump orders brutal attack | World | News

US airstrikes LIVE: Updates as fears of World War 3 erupt after Trump orders brutal attack | World | News


Top Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, an adviser to Gen Soleimani, was also killed in the attack that was ordered by US President Donald Trump.

Their convoy was destroyed in a pinpoint attack by US forces as it drove towards the airport.

Get Soleimani’s killing marks a dramatic escalation in the regional “shadow war” between Iran and the United States and its allies, principally Israel and Saudi Arabia, which could quickly ratchet up tit-for-tat attacks.

The attack is expected to draw severe Iranian retaliation against Israel and American interests after its Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed harsh revenge.

BREAKING NEWS: US used terrifying 230mph Hellfire missiles fired from ‘hunter-killer’ drone to eliminate Qassem Soleimani

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US airstrikes LIVE: Updates as fears of World War 3 erupt after Trump orders brutal attack

US airstrikes LIVE: Updates as fears of World War 3 erupt after Trump orders brutal attack (Image: GETTY)

Sunday January 5

12.20am update: Boris Johnson returns home 

Boris Johnson will return from his Mustique trip Sunday, he will be greeted by National Security Adviser Sir Mark Sedweill and recieve a full briefing of the situation. 

Dominic Raab will head to Washington to meet Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State. 

Gursimran Hans has taken over live reporting from Carly Read. 

Saturday January 4

10.10pm update: Pompeo says he spoke to Israel PM Netanyahu about ‘countering Iran’s influence’

Mike Pompeo revealed today that he spoke with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

He said the pair discussed ‘the importance of countering Iran’s influence’.

9.45pm update: Germany in talks with Iran to de-escalate tensions

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is seeking talks with Iran.

He said he wants to also attempt to de-escalate tensions.

9pm update: Britain backs US over Iran attack – Washington entitled to defend itself says UK Government

Britain urged all parties to show restraint today after the US killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in an air strike, but said its closest ally was entitled to defend itself against an imminent threat.

Defence minister Ben Wallace said in a statement that he had spoken to his US counterpart Mark Esper, adding: “We urge all parties to engage to de-escalate the situation.

“Under international law the United States is entitled to defend itself against those posing an imminent threat to their citizens,” he added.

8.30pm update: Britain’s navy to accompany UK-flagged ships through Strait of Hormuz

The Royal Navy will accompany UK-flagged ships through the Strait of Hormuz to provide protection after the killing of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani by US forces.

Defence minister Ben Wallace said he had ordered the warships HMS Montrose and HMS Defender to prepare to return to escort duties for all ships sailing under a British merchant flag.

He said: “The government will take all necessary steps to protect our ships and citizens at this time.”

8pm update: Iraqi PM declares national mourning for Soleimani

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi declared on Saturday three days of national mourning for Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani, Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, and others killed in a US air strike in Baghdad.

He said in a statement: “Prime Minister and Commander in Chief Adel Abdul Mahdin orders the deceleration of national mourning for the souls of the martyrs for three days as of Saturday.”

7pm update: Man arrested at London Islamic centre before memorial to Iran General killed is US strike

A man has been arrested outside an Islamic centre in London shortly before it was due to hold a memorial for a top Iranian general killed in a US air strike.

The Metropolitan Police said the man was detained near the Islamic Centre of England at Maida Vale in Kilburn at about 4.50pm on Saturday to prevent a breach of peace and for obstructing officers.

It is understood at this stage that the two incidents are not connected.

6.10pm update: Three rockets launched at US base in Baghdad after additional two fell near embassy

Several rockets have reportedly exploded near an airport housing American troops north of the Iraqi city as well as the US embassy.

According to Sky News Arabia, at least two missiles struck near the embassy in the Green Zone while others were fired at Balad Airbase, around 50 miles north of the city. Both attacks occurred on Saturday afternoon.

It is unclear how many troops are at the base, but there are no reports of injuries at either site.

The missile strike comes two days after a US airstrike which killed General Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force.

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The missiles hit another building near the US embassy (Image: TWITTER)

5.25pm update: Police in Baghdad claims rocket fell near US embassy – no casualties

Police in Baghdad claimed a missile fell near the US embassy, adding there were no casualties.

The US embassy in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone which houses government buildings and foreign missions on Friday but caused no casualties, two police sources told Reuters.

The rocket fell inside the Green Zone’s Celebrations Square, near the US embassy.

5.20pm update: FCO issue waring for Britons heading to Turkey amid World War 3 fear

World War 3 concerns are on the rise following a drone strike by the US which killed an Iranian military leader.

Now, tourists travelling to holiday destinations in the surrounding areas are being warned to return home.

The FCO has issued a specific warning to those in Turkey.

4.30pm update: Emmanuel Macron in talks with Iraq to avert Middle East tensions

French President Emmanuel Macron discussed the latest tensions in the Middle East with Iraq President Barham Salih and with the de facto ruler of

the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan.

A statement from Macron’s office added that Mr Macron and Mr Salih would remain in close contact to try to avert a further escalation in tensions in Iraq and the broader region.

On Saturday, tens of thousands of people marched in Baghdad to mourn Iran’s military chief Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, after the two were killed in a U.S. air strike that has raised the spectre of wider conflict in the Middle East.

3.01pm update: John McDonnell urges Government to condemn US aggression

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has criticised the response of the Government to the US airstrike in Baghdad as he joined 150 peace campaigners in Westminster.

Mr McDonnell said: “We’ve been here before, we were here 17 years ago. And there’s one lesson that came from those events, is that violence begets violence.

“And it was acts like this that led us to the catastrophic war in Iraq.

“It’s so easily, so easily to happen as a result of the foreign policy of aggressive imperialism that the US now has resorted to yet again under Donald Trump.

“And it’s not good enough for the UK government just to appeal for a de-escalation, what we expect the UK government to do is to come out in total and outright condemnation of this act of violence.

“We will not tolerate us being dragged yet again into this type of aggressive military action which puts us all at risk.”

2.32pm update: NATO suspends Iraq training programme

NATO has suspended a training mission in Iraq following the killing of Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander Qassem Soleimani in a US airstrike.

Dylan White, a spokesman for the alliance, said: “The safety of our personnel in Iraq is paramount.

“We continue to take all precautions necessary. NATO’s mission is continuing but training activities are temporarily suspended.”

2.28pm update: McDonnell and Burgon join Stop the War protest at Downing Street

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell and shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon have joined protesters at the Stop the War Coalition rally outside Downing Street.

The Labour duo are among around 150 demonstrators who are calling for the US to avoid any further conflict with Iran.

Stop the War convener Lindsey German said “war has been on the cards for quite a long time now” due to Donald Trump “tearing up” the Iran nuclear deal and placing “draconian sanctions” on the country.

She said: “You can argue about whether this is prelude to war, but it is an act of war, you don’t assassinate a top general without it being something where you know there’s going to be serious consequences.

“I hope we’re not seeing, as some people put on Twitter, World War 3, we’re still some way from that obviously.

“But the way that these wars begin is with all sorts of steps where people think, ‘I can do this and get away with it’.

“That’s how you can drift into it.”

1.22pm update: US army halts Iraq military training

The US military and its allies have suspended training of Iraqi forces due to the increased security risk in the Middle East, according to German defence officials.

12.58pm update: China accuses US of “abusing the use of force”

China has warned the US to stop abusing the use of force and seek solutions through dialogue as tensions continue to soar in the Middle East.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi said: “The risky behaviour of the US military violates the basic

norms of international relations and will worsen tensions and turbulence in the region.”

Mr Wang has contacted his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif and told him,e China would play a constructive role in maintaining peace and security in the Gulf region, according to a statement from the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement.

12.32pm:  France calls or de-escalation in Middle East

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has met his German and Chinese counterparts to discuss the Middle East crisis and said all three agreed on the need to avoid any escalation in tensions.

Mr Le Drian said he had held a telephone conversation with German foreign minister Heiko Maas and senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi.

He said: “We all noted in particular our agreement in the importance of preserving the stability and sovereignty of Iraq, and the whole of the region in general, as well as the need for Iran to avoid any new violation of the Vienna Agreement.”

12.03pm update: Tens of thousands of mourners march through Baghdad

Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets of Baghdad to mourn Iran’s military commander Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis who were killed in a US air strike.

The marchers included many militiamen in uniform for whom al-Muhandis and Gen Soleimani were inspirational heroes.

They waved Iraqi and militia flags and carried portraits of both men and plastered them on walls and armoured personnel carriers in the procession.

The vast crowds chanted “No No Israel” and “No No America”.

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi and Iraqi militia commander Hadi al-Amiri, a close Iran ally and the top candidate to succeed Muhandis, attended.

The procession is due to proceed by car to the Shi’ite holy city of Kerbala and end in Najaf, another sacred Shi’ite city where al-Muhandis and others will be laid to rest.

Gen Soleimani’s body will be transferred to the southwestern Iranian province of Khuzestan that borders Iraq.

It will be taken to the Shi’ite holy city of Mashhad in the northeast and from there to Tehran and on to his hometown Kerman in the southeast for burial on Tuesday.

 

Baghdad

Mourners march through the streets of Baghdad (Image: GETTY)

11.01am update: Iranian general raises prospect of revenge attacks on US ships

Iran will punish Americans wherever they are within reach of the Islamic Republic in retaliation for the killing of miliary commander Qassem Soleimani, a senior Revolutionary Guards commander has warned.

General Gholamali Abuhamzeh, the commander of the Guards in the southern province of Kerman, raised the prospect of possible attacks on ships in the Gulf.

He insisted Iran reserved the right to take revenge against the US for the death of Gen Soleimani.

Gen Abuhamzeh said: “The Strait of Hormuz is a vital point for the West and a large number of American destroyers and warships cross there.

“Vital American targets in the region have been identified by Iran since a long time ago.

“Some 35 US targets in the region, as well as Tel Aviv, are within our reach.”

10.41am update: Hezbollah warns of “decisive” response to killing

Lebanese militia group Hezbollah has warned the response of the Iran-backed “resistance axis” to the killing of Qassem Soleimani will be “decisive”

9.31am update: US denies launching fresh airstrikes on Iran-backed militia group

The US has denied carrying fresh out airstrikes on Iraq’s Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary force a day after top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani was killed in a drone attack near Baghdad airport.

Reports on state television said the latest strike targeted a convoy on the Taji Road north of Baghdad late last night.

An Iraqi army source said two of the three vehicles making up a convoy of medics were found destroyed as well as the remains of six people. The source said three more people were critically wounded.

The Iran-backed Hashed al-Shaabi confirmed the strike, saying none of its top leaders were killed.

But both the Iraqi military and the Popular Mobilisation Force later denied any air strikes had taken place in the area.

The US-led coalition fighting ISIS in the region also denied conducting any recent attacks near the camp north of Baghdad.

A coalition spokesman tweeted: “FACT: the coalition did not conduct air strikes near Camp Taji north of Baghdad in recent days.”

Hezbollah supporter

A Hezbollah supporter among the mourners at the funeral of Gen Soleimani (Image: REUTERS)

9.12am update: Hunt describes Middle East confrontation as “incredibly dangerous game of chicken”

Former foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt has likened the confrontation between the US and Iran to a “game of chicken”.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme he said: “Well it’s an incredibly dangerous game of chicken that’s going on at the moment, because both sides have calculated that the other side cannot afford, and doesn’t want, to go to war.

“So they are doing increasingly extreme things, not just the assassination of General Soleimani but the bombing of the Saudi oil facility, last September, is another example of this.

“And of course it is true that neither side wants to go to war, but it’s also true that both sides are compelled to react when things like this happen. And that is the risk in the current situation.”

Mr Hunt said the heightened tensions created a “very difficult situation for allies of the United States, like ourselves”.

He said: “The UK cannot afford to be neutral if we want to be a serious global player.

“But this is a very, very risky situation, and I think the job that we have to do as one of the US’s closest allies is to use our influence to argue for more consistent US policy.”

8.40am update: Thousands gather for Qassem Soleimani funeral

Thousands of mourners have gathered for a funeral procession through Baghdad for Iran’s top general and other militants killed in a US airstrike.

General Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds force and mastermind of its regional security strategy, was killed in an airstrike overnight on Friday near the Iraqi capital’s airport.

US President Donald Trump says he ordered the strike to prevent a conflict.

Soleimani funeral

Thousands gather for the funeral of General Qassem Soleimani funeral (Image: REUTERS)

8.21am update: Britons warned to avoid Iraq

The Foreign Office has updated its travel advice warning British nationals to avoid all travel to Iraq and all but essential travel to Iran.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “The first job of any government is to keep British people safe.

“Given heightened tensions in the region, the Foreign Office now advise people not to travel to Iraq, with the exception of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, and to consider carefully whether it’s essential to travel to Iran.

“We will keep this under review.”

The Foreign Office also warned British nationals in the region to “remain vigilant and monitor the media carefully”.

5.45am update: US draft website crashes

The website of the US Selective Service crashed last night. 

The service tracks information about men eligible for miliray enlistment. 

The site contains information about draft ages, requirements and exceptions. 

The draft was abolished in 1973 but men aged 18-25 are required to sign up if a draft becomes necessary. 

This would require Congressional support. 

5.40am update: Expert questions legality of killing

Noted international legal scholar, Mary Ellen O’Connell, of Notre Dame School has said: “Pre-emptive self defence is never a legal justification for assassination. Nothing is. The relevant law is the United Nations Charter, which defines self defence as a right to respond to an actual and significant armed attack.

“The use of a drone to kill Iranian Gen Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad was not in response to an armed attack on the United States. Iran has not attacked the sovereign territory of the United States.

“In this case, the United States has not only committed an extrajudicial killing, it has carried out an unlawful attack within Iraq.”

tim kaine

Tim Kaine has introduced legislation which aims to prevent escalation of tensions (Image: GETTY)

5.25am update: Claims Trump hinted at attack at Mar-a-Lago

An exclusive article in the Daily Beast claims Trump told Mar-a-Lago visitors to expect “big” Iran action “soon”. 

5.10am update: Trump retweets claim Soleimani killed 603 servcemen

Donald Trump has reetweeted a post from Liz Wheeler, host of Tipping Point on One America News.

Ms Wheeler tweeted: “Soleimani killed 603 American servicemembers. Soleimani maimed thousands more with IEDs. Soleimani approved the attack on the U.S. Embassy. He was plotting to kill more Americans. Yes he deserves to be dead. If you’re lamenting his death, you hate Trump more than a terrorist.” 

5.00am update: Iran vows “supreme revenge” 

Ayatollah Khameni, Iran’s Supreme Leader has aid “severe revenge awaits the criminals” and said Mr Soleimani’s death would redouble the “resistance” against the US and Israel. 

3.50am update: Kaine introduces legilsation to block escaltion of tensions

Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton’s running mate in 2016 has introduced legislation to attempt to block Trump from further escalating tensions. 

The resolution is privileged, which gives certain House committees the right to ring legislation to the floor without it being blocked and seeks to demand the POTUS must be explicitly authorised by a congressional declaration of war or congressional authorisation before it uses milady force but it does not prevent the US defending itself from an imminent attack according to Mr Kaine’s office. 

Senator Kaine is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. 

1.45am update: Iran tells UN it well defend itself 

Iran has told the UN Security Council and Secretary-General Antonio Guterres it reserves the right to self-defence following the killing of Soleimani. 

In a letter, ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi said the event “is an obvious example of State terrorism and, as a criminal act, constitutes a gross violation of the fundamental principles of international law, including, in particular the Charter of the United Nations.”

The US and the UK are permanent members of the security council along with China, France and Russia whilst Belgium, the Dominican Republic, Estonia, Germany, Indonesia, Niger, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, South Africa, Tunisia and Vietnam are currently non-permanent members. 

12.40am update: David Miliband called off Soleimani attack 

It has been alleged that the SAS was prepared to kill Mr Soleimani in 2007 after identifying he was running the campaign against UK troops in Basra during the Iraq War. 

The Daily Telegraph claim the SAS had him in their”crosshairs” but a personal intervention from then Foreign Secretary David Miliband called of the attack. 

12.30am update: Airstrike kills six

Six people have been killed after an attack on the Iran backed Popular Mobilisation Forces militia with three critically injured. 

The group alleges the attack hit a convoy carrying medics and not fighters and senior leaders. 

There is yet to be confirmation as to the source of the attack. 

iran protest

Women march through Rasht after the killing (Image: GETTY)

Friday January 3

11.25pm update: Speech re-emerges of Soleimani threatening Trump 

A tweet from Trump and a speech made by Mr Soleimani in the summer of 2018 has re-emerged. 

Trump wrote: “To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER EVER, THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. 

“WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. 

“BE CAUTIOUS!” 

Mr Soleimani, responded with a speech in Hamdan, 200 miles southwest of Tehran in which he described Trump’s comments as “idiotic” and “in the style of a bartender or a casino manager.” 

He added: “’Mr Trump, the gambler! You are well aware of our power and capabilities in the region.

“Come, we are waiting for you. We are the real men on the scene, as far as you are concerned. You know that a war would mean the loss of all your capabilities. You may start the war, but we will be the ones to determine its end.”

Gursimran Hans has taken over live updating from Paul Withers. 

9.30pm update: How Soleimani ignored Pompeo’s chilling letter before US drone strike

Qasem Soleimani ignored a letter sent by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo holding him accountable for any attacks on US interest by forces under their control, according to a senior Iranian aide.

Mr Pompeo sent a letter to General Soleimani warning him over his increasingly threatening behaviour in Iraq in 2017.

Speaking during a panel at the annual Reagan National Defense Forum in Southern California in 2017, the US Secretary of State said: “What we were communicating to him in that letter was that we will hold him and Iran accountable for any attacks on American interests in Iraq by forces that are under their control.

“We wanted to make sure he and the leadership in Iran understood that in a way that was crystal clear.”

9.18pm update: Soleimani planned to attack US personnel in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and elsewhere in Middle East – Trump administration official

Qassem Soleimani was planning imminent attacks on US diplomats and armed forces in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East, a senior Trump administration official has claimed.

According to Reuters, the official told reporters on condition of anonymity: “This was a defensive strike, that was taken, and supported by very solid intelligence.

“This was strongly supported by everything that we were seeing that Soleimani was planning imminent attacks against American diplomats and armed forces members in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and in the region.

“This was an action taken in self defence, and the United States has the inherent right to defend itself, if it is faced with an attack.”

9.12pm: Soleimani was planning ‘campaign’ of violence against US – top general in Washington

The US had “clear, unambiguous” intelligence that Qassem Soleimani was planning a significant campaign of violence against the country when it decided to strike him, the top US general has said.

Army General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, told reporters “we fully comprehend the strategic consequences” associated with the killing of Iran’s top military commander.

He said: ”Is there risk? Damn right, there’s risk. But we’re working to mitigate it.”

donald trump iran

The US President claimed Qassem Soleimani made killing his ‘sick passion’ (Image: GETTY)

8.51pm update: Donald Trump gloats in Iran’s face after assassination and brands Soleimani a ‘sick’ man

Donald Trump gloated following the killing of Qassem Soleimani, with the the US President claiming Iran’s top military chief made killing his “sick passion”.

He told a news conference: “The recent attack on US targets in Iraq including rocket strikes that killed an American and injured four very badly.

“As well as a violent assault on our embassy in Baghdad were carried out at the direction of Soleimani.

“Soleimani made the death of innocent people his sick passion.

“Contributing to terrorist plots as far away as New Dehli and London.

“Today we remember the victims of Soleimani many atrocities and we take comfort in knowing that his reign of terror is over.

“Soleimani has been penetrating acts of terror for the last 20 years.

“What the United States did yesterday should have been done long ago.

“A lot of lives would have been saved.”

8.30pm update: Iran attack STOPPED World War 3 – Trump

Donald Trump announced that the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani was to “stop a war, not start a war” as he called the attacks from Iran’s second-most-powerful commander a “sick passion”.

The US President said the killing of Iran’s top military chief “should have been done a long time ago”.

He told a news conference: “We took action last night to stop a war. We did not take action to start a war.”

Mr Trump said the US was not seeking regime change in Iran, but claimed the world was a safer place without “monsters” such as Soleimani.

iran donald trump

Donald Trump said the assassination of Qassem Soleimani was to ‘stop a war, not start a war’ (Image: REUTERS)

8.11pm update: Pompeo and Saudi Crown Prince discuss lowering tensions

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has spoken with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo via telephone to discuss measures for reducing tension in the region, according to the state news agency.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the kingdom had earlier called for self restraint to contain any escalation.

7.32pm update: New York on high alert and braced for Iran retaliation

New York is bracing for a huge security threat as a result from possible retaliation from Iran over the US air strike in Baghdad that killed Qassem Soleimani, Mayor Mayor Bill de Blasio has said.

The city is constantly vigilant against possible terrorist attacks given its history.

But Mr de Blasio said the threat changed significantly overnight considering the resources of a modern, major nation such as Iran compared to those of non-state organisations like al Qaeda or ISIS.

He said: “We have never confronted in recent decades the reality of a war with a government of a large country with an international terror network at its behest,” the mayor told a news conference.

“New Yorkers deserve to know that we have entered into a different reality.”

7.28pm update: Iran vows to take international legal measures against US

Iran will launch legal measures at international level to hold the US to account for for the assassination of Qassem Soleimani.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told state TV on Friday: “It was clearly a terrorist action.

“Iran will launch various legal measures at the international level to hold America to account for Soleimani’s assassination.”

7.24pm update: Iran warns Soleimani killing is act of ‘international terrorism’

The country’s Foreign Minister has claimed the killing of Qassem v by the US in Iraq was an act of “international terrorism”.

Javad Zarif said, according to state television: “It was an extremely dangerous, foolish escalation.

“He was the most effective force fighting against Islamic State and al Qaeda terrorists.”

7.14pm update: US Defence Secretary cancels holiday amid Iran crisis

Mark Esper has canceled plans to take personal leave later this month amid rising tension with Iran.

The overnight US air strike against Qassem Soleimani has marked a dramatic escalation in tensions between with Iran, and could have broad implications for the Middle East.

It was followed by a decision from the Pentagon to send more than 3,000 additional troops to the Middle East.

7.09pm update: Corbyn asks Johnson for urgent Privy Council briefing to demand answers following Suleimani killing

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has asked Boris Johnson for an urgent Privy Council briefing “to demand answers to a series of questions following the US assassination of Qassem Suleimani”.

They include: “The contact the UK Government has had with the US administration before and after the attack; whether the UK Government has been in touch with the UN to discuss the consequences for peace and security; the measures taken to ensure the safety of UK nationals; and what assessment has been made of the potential increase in the risk of terrorist attack in the UK.”

Mr Corbyn added: “Given the present risk of an Iranian military response to the US attack what measures has the UK Government taken to ensure the safety of UK nationals in the region and beyond, and what action has been taken to protect UK shipping and UK strategic locations?

“What assessment has been made of the potential increase in the risk of terrorist attack within the UK itself as a result of the assassination and what action has been undertaken by the Government to address any increased risk?”

6.10pm update: THOUSANDS of extra US troops sent to Middle East as Trump prepares for WW3

The US is deploying a further 3,500 troops to the Middle East as Donald Trump prepares for World War 3 following the killing if Iranian General Qassem Soleimani.

The thousands of additional troops from the 82nd Airborne Division as a precaution, US officials said.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to Reuters, said the troops would be joining around 750 forces that were sent to Kuwait earlier this week.

US officials told Reuters earlier this week that thousands of additional troops could be sent to the region and had been told to prepare to deploy.

Since May, the US has already dispatched around 14,000 additional troops to the Middle East.

iran us air strikes boris johnson

Boris Johnson has been asked by Jeremy Corbyn for an urgent Privy Council meeting to demand answers (Image: GETTY)

4.53pm update: ‘Soleimani was plotting coup in Iraq’ – US Senator

Marco Rubio has defended Donald Trump’s decision to kill Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani, claiming the military leader had been attempting to take control of Iraq and use it as a platform to attack the US.

The US Senator wrote on Twitter, without citing sources: “At the direction of Iran’s Supreme Leader, Soleimani was plotting a coup in Iraq.

“He was corrupting/threatening politicians, exploiting Iraq’s resources & bringing a large military force loyal to him, in an effort to make Iraq a platform to attack the U.S. & our allies.”

4.45pm update: Saudi Arabia urges self-restraint over US strike

Saudi Arabia has called for self-restraint to prevent further escalation after the US strike in Baghdad, an official source told state television.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also issued a statement affirming the international community must fulfil its responsibilities to ensure the security of the region.

4.10pm update: Another airline suspends flights to and from Baghdad

Bahrain’s Gulf Air has suspended flights to and from Baghdad and Najaf until further notice.

The airline said in a tweet: “Flights to and from Baghdad and Najaf in the Republic of Iraq have suspended until further notice due to safety and security issues.”

3.47pm update: Iran’s top security body warns US it will ‘not easily escape its consequences’

The Supreme National Security Council has warned the US it will be held accountable for the killing of Qassem Soleimani, adding Washington’s actions is the worst mistake in the region. 

The statement carried by Iranian media said: “The U.S. regime will be responsible for the consequences of this criminal adventurism.

“This was the biggest US strategic blunder in the West Asia region, and America will not easily escape its consequences.”

us airstrikes macron putin

Emmanuel Macron has held takjs with Vladimir Putin to discuss the situation in Iraq (Image: GETTY)

3.42pm update: Macron urges Iran to refrain from any provocation

French President Emmanuel Macron has said Iran should refrain from any provocation.

He also said in a statement that he has held talks with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to discuss the current situation in Iraq.

3.34pm update: Trump continues Twitter attack on Iran – ‘It will never end well!’ 

US President Donald Trump also tweeted: “The United States has paid Iraq Billions of Dollars a year, for many years. That is on top of all else we have done for them.

“The people of Iraq don’t want to be dominated & controlled by Iran, but ultimately, that is their choice.

“Over the last 15 years, Iran has gained more and more control over Iraq, and the people of Iraq are not happy with that. It will never end well!”

3.23pm update: UN Secretary General warns ‘world cannot afford another war in the Gulf’

Antonio Guterres is “deeply concerned” by the recent rise in tensions in the Middle East following the killing of Qassam Soleimani by the US. 

Spokesman Farhan Huq said in a statement: “The Secretary-General has consistently advocated for de-escalation in the Gulf. He is deeply concerned with the recent escalation.

“This is a moment in which leaders must exercise maximum restraint. The world cannot afford another war in the Gulf.”

3.18pm update: Mexico President refuses to comment on killing of Iranian commander

Manuel Lopez Obrador has said he ill not comment on the US air strike in Baghdad that killed Qassem Soleimani.

He said in his daily news confernece: “I won’t go into that.

“That’s to do with foreign politics.”

3.14pm update: Airline suspends flights to Baghdad’s international airport

Royal Jordanian Airlines has suspended flights to Baghdad’s international airport until further notice.

The state carrier, which has eighteen scheduled flights every week to Baghdad, said its flights to other cities in Iraq were not affected and are operating normally.

3.07pm update: Oil prices jump further and lead to concerns over crude supplies

Oil prices have now surged more than $3 following the US air strike in Baghdad ordered by Donald Trump that killed Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani. 

Brent crude rose to a peak of $69.50 per barrel – it’s highest since mid-September when Saudi oil facilities came under attack – and was up 3,7 percent or $2.43 per barrel by 2.45pm at $6868. 

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was up $2.17 or 3.5 percent at $63.35 a barrel, having earlier spiked to $64.09 a barrel, its highest since April 2019.

us airstrikes donald trump

Donald Trump tweeted ‘Qassem Soleimani has killed or badly wounded thousands of Americans’ (Image: @realDonaldTrump / Twitter)

Paul Withers taking over live reporting from Simon Osborne.

2.44pm update: Israel closes Golan Heights ski resort amid soaring tensions

Israel has closed the Mount Hermon ski resort in the disputed Golan Heights which borders Syria and Lebanon amid soaring tensions.

Militiamen from the Iran-backed Lebanese Shi’ite group Hezbollah are deployed just the other side of the armistice line.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has cut short a foreign visit while defence Minister Naftali Bennett chaired a meeting of security chiefs, including the heads of the army, the National Security Council and the Mossad intelligence agency.

2.04pm update: Defiant Trump says Soleimani “should have been taken out years ago”

Donald Trump has defended his decision to order the killing of Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani and said he “should have been taken out years ago”.

Writing on Twitter, Mr Trump said: “General Qassem Soleimani has killed or badly wounded thousands of Americans over an extended period of time, and was plotting to kill many more…but got caught!

“He was directly and indirectly responsible for the death of millions of people, including the recent large number of PROTESTERS killed in Iran itself.

“While Iran will never be able to properly admit it, Soleimani was both hated and feared within the country.

“They are not nearly as saddened as the leaders will let the outside world believe. He should have been taken out many years ago!”

1.34pm update: Iraq’s Speaker condemns US attack

Iraq’s Speaker of Parliament Mohammed al-Halbousi has condemned the US air strike in Baghdad as a breach of sovereignty.

Mr al-Halbousi said: ”Yesterday’s targeting of a military commander in Iraq’s armed forces near Baghdad international airport is a flagrant breach of sovereignty and violation of international agreements.

“Iraq must avoid becoming a battlefield or a side in any regional or international conflict.”

General Qassem Soleimani

General Qassem Soleimani was killed when his convoy was hit by a US airstrike near Baghdad airport (Image: GETTY)

1.19pm update: Pompeo said deadly airstrike was “intelligence led”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the airstrike that killed a top Iranian commander aimed to disrupt an “imminent attack” that would have endangered Americans in the Middle East.

Mr Pompeo said “an intelligence based assessment” was behind the decision to

target Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force.

He said: “He was actively plotting in the region to take actions – a big action as he described it – that would have put dozens if not hundreds of American lives at risk. We know it was imminent.

“These were threats that were located in the region. Last night was the time that we needed to strike to make sure that this imminent attack was disrupted.”

Mr Pompeo insisted the US was committed to de-escalation with Iran but would defend itself and said the US had fortified its assets in the region and was prepared for any possible retaliation, including a cyberattack.

12.03pm update: Netanyahu praises Trump for “decisive action”

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has backed Donald Trump’s decision to launch the airstrike that killed powerful Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani.

In a statement issued by his office, Mr Netanyahu said: “Just as Israel has the right of self-defence, the US has exactly the same right.

“Qassem Soleimani is responsible for the death of American citizens and many other innocent people. He was planning more such attacks.

“Donald Trump deserves all the credit for acting swiftly, forcefully and decisively.

“Israel stands with the United States in its just struggle for peace, security and self-defence.”

11.25am update: Bolton welcomes killing of Qassem Soleimani

Former US national security adviser John Bolton has welcomed the killing of Qassem Soleimani and said he hoped to would be “the first step to regime change in Tehran.”

He tweeted: “Congratulations to all involved in eliminating Qassem Soleimani.

“Long in the making, this was a decisive blow against Iran’s malign Quds Force activities worldwide.

“Hope this is the first step to regime change in Tehran.”

Qassem Soleimani Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis

Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis were killed in the pinpoint strike (Image: AFP)

11.16am update: UN brands Baghdad killings “unlawful”

The UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killing said the targeted airstrikes on Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis violated international human rights law.

Agnès Callamard said the US would need to prove Iran’s top general and his Iraqi paramilitary adviser constituted an imminent threat to others.

She said: “An individual’s past involvement in ‘terrorist’ attacks is not sufficient to make his targeting for killing lawful.

“The White House statement fails to mention the other individuals killed alongside Soleiman. Collateral? Probably. Unlawful? Absolutely.”

10.49am update: Corbyn calls on Boris to stand up to Trump over “assassinations”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has told the Government to stand up to the “belligerent actions and rhetoric” from the US after the nation killed Iran’s top general.

In a statement, Mr Corbyn said: “The US assassination of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani is an extremely serious and dangerous escalation of conflict in the Middle East with global significance.

“The UK Government should urge restraint on the part of both Iran and the US, and stand up to the belligerent actions and rhetoric coming from the United States.

“All countries in the region and beyond should seek to ratchet down the tensions to avoid deepening conflict, which can only bring further misery to the region, 17 years on from the disastrous invasion of Iraq.”

READ MORE: World War 3 panic: US airstrike kills top Iranian commander

10.35am update: Hezbollah leader calls for Soleimani’s death to be avenged

The head of the Iranian-backed Lebanese militant group Hezbollah has called for the death of Gen Soleimani to be avenged.

Hassan Nasrallah said: “Meting out the appropriate punishment to these criminal assassins will be the responsibility and task of all resistance fighters worldwide.

“We will carry a flag on all battlefields and all fronts and we will step up the victories of the axis of resistance with the blessing of his pure blood.”

10.23am update: Raab calls for calm in wake of US airstrike

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has called for a calming of tensions from all aggressors after the US killed Iran’s top general in an airstrike.

General Qassem Soleimani, head of Tehran’s elite Quds Force who spearheaded military operations in the Middle East, was targeted in a drone strike at Baghdad’s international airport.

Mr Raab issued a statement saying the Government had “always recognised the aggressive threat posed by the Iranian Quds force led” by the general.

He said: ”Following his death, we urge all parties to de-escalate. Further conflict is in none of our interests.”

9.59am update: US airstrikes spark fears for safety of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

The husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has expressed concern for her safety and that of her family after a US air strike killed Iran’s top general.

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a dual British-Iranian citizen, has been imprisoned in Iran’s capital Tehran since 2016 when she was arrested and accused of spying while visiting family.

He husband Richard, who has spent the last four years campaigning for her release, told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “Things are getting much worse again between the US and Iran, but also between all of us and Iran.

“I sit here partly worried for what that means for Nazanin, partly worried what that means for my in-laws, sat in their ordinary living room in Tehran where they’re all really worried.”

Baghdad protests

Protestors burn US and British flags on the streets of Baghdad after last night deadly airstrike (Image: GETTY)

9.52am update: Former minister warns of Middle East escalation

Former Middle East minister Alistair Burt has warned the situation in the strife-torn region is “extremely serious”.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the US airstrike could cause “a huge potential escalation” of the conflict, of which “the consequences are unknown”.

He said it was “very important now to concentrate on what happens next, and for everybody involved diplomatically to do everything they can to try and diffuse the situation”.

READ MORE: ‘DYNAMITE into a TINDERBOX’ Biden slams Trump over Baghdad airstrikes

9.53am update: British military steps up security across Middle East

Britain has increased its security and readiness at military bases in the Middle East after the US killed Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani, according to a report on Sky News.

The Ministry of Defence did not immediately comment on the report.

9.44am update: Soleimani “more powerful than Bin Laden or Baghdadi”

Britain’s former ambassador to Lebanon said Qassem Soleimani was a much more powerful figure than terror chiefs Osama bin Laden or Abū Bakr al-Baghdadi who also died at the hands of US special forces.

Tom Fletcher told the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Soleimani’s power was growing as it has been really since the US invasion of Iraq.

“It is hard to overstate the potential impact of this moment.”

Mr Fletcher said Iran had been “goading Washington, goading Donald Trump”.

He said: “And of course, we don’t just have erratic leaders at the moment in Tehran, we have an erratic leader in Washington as well.”

When asked how Iran could retaliate, Mr Fletcher said: “The strategic response, if they’re feeling rational, is probably to consolidate their position in Iraq.

“But elsewhere they have many more dangerous options including assassinations themselves or proxy wars or asymmetric attacks like the ones against the Saudi oil facilities.”

US airstrike

The burning wreckage of a military vehicle in the aftermath of the US airstrike near Baghdad airport (Image: REUTERS)

9.20am update: Oil prices soar in wake of Baghdad airstrike

Oil prices rose over $2 a barrel and gold and other safe-haven assets also jumped as the

US killing of a top Iranian commander in an air strike in Iraq ratcheted up tensions between the two powers.

8.43am update: Iraqi PM warns US strikes will “light the fuse” of war.

Iraqi prime minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has condemned the US killing of Iranian Quds Force commander

Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and warned the airstrikes that killed them would “light the fuse” of war.

US forces killed Gen Soleimani, head of the elite Quds Force and architect of Iran’s spreading military influence in the Middle East, in a strike on his convoy near Baghdad airport.

Al-Muhandis, an adviser to Gen Soleimani, was also killed in the targeted attack.

Mr Mahdi said: “The assassination of an Iraqi military commander who holds an official position is considered aggression on Iraq and the liquidation of leading Iraqi figures or those from a

brotherly country on Iraqi soil is a massive breach of sovereignty.”

8.22am update: US citizens ordered to leave Iraq

US citizens have been ordered to leave Iraq “immediately” after US President Donald Trump ordered an airstrike that killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.

US Embassy officials have urged citizens to get out of Iraq after the strike which is fears to spark a new war in the Middle East.

Iraqi counter-terrorism forces have been deployed to stand guard at the embassy – which just days ago stormed by a mob of anti-US protesters which have been linked to militias backed by Iran.

And a slogan in Arabic reading “Death to America” has been spotted painted on a road in Baghdad.

US citizens have been urged to leave via flight if possible, but if it is not possible, to travel to other countries via land and go from there.

7.58am update: Iraqi Prime Minister condemns “assassinations”

Iraqi Prime Minister Abdul Mahdi has coldemned the US “assassinations” of Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani and militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

Mr Mahdi said the airstrike on Baghdad airport was an act of aggression on Iraq and breach of its sovereignty that will lead to war in Iraq, the region, and the world.

He said the attack also violated the conditions of US military presence in Iraq and should be met with legislation that safeguards Iraq’s security and sovereignty.

7.53am update: China urges US restraint after killing of Iranian commander

China’s foreign ministry has urged US leaders to remain calm amid growing fears of the outbreak of World War 3.

Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said China consistently opposes the use of force in international relations.

He said Beijing was urging the relevant sides, especially the US, to remain calm and exercise restraint to avoid further escalating tensions and said peace and stability in the Middle East must be upheld.

7.38am update: Syria condemns killing of Iranian military chief

Syria has strongly condemned the “treacherous, criminal American aggression” that led to the killing of Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani.

State news agency SANA cited a foreign ministry source as saying the attack constituted a “serious escalation” and reaffirmed US responsibility for instability in Iraq.

US airstrikes on Baghdad

Burning debris on a road near Baghdad International Airport after US airstrikes (Image: REUTERS)

7.31am update: Israel braced for retaliation from Iran-backed militia

Israel’s defence minister has summoned the country’s military and security chiefs to Tel Aviv

in the wake of the US air strike that killed senior Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani.

Israeli officials have give no immediate public response to the deaths of Soleimani and of Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in Baghdad.

But Israel Army Radio said the military had gone on heightened alert, amid fears that Iran could strike through its regional allies such as Tehran-backed Lebanese movement Hezbollah to the north, or through Palestinian militant group Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza.

Ron Ben-Yishai, a commentator for Israeli news outlet Ynet, said: “They will wait for the right moment to exact revenge, perhaps by firing into Israeli territory through Shiite militias

in Syria and perhaps even from Gaza.”

7.26am update: Iranian general ‘was planning attacks’

US defence chiefs have issued a statement confirming the strike against Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, was carried out at the direction of Donald Trump.

The Defence Department said Gen Soleimani “was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region”.

7.12am update: Biden condemns Trump decision to launch attack

US Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said Donald Trump had “tossed a stick of dynamite into a tinderbox” with the targeted killing of Iran’s top general in an air strike in Baghdad.

The former vice president joined other Democratic White House hopefuls in criticising Mr Trump’s order, saying it could leave the US “on the brink of a major conflict across the Middle East”.

7.05am update: Ayatollah Ali Khamenei brands US ‘devils and villainous’

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has paid tribute to Iranian general Qassem Suleimani who was killed in the Baghdad drone strike ordered by Donald Trump.

The Ayatollah tweeted: “Dear Iranian Nation! Years of sincere, brave efforts fighting against the devils and villainous in the world and yrs of wishing for martyrdom on the path of God finally took the dear Commander of Islam, Soleimani, to this lofty status.

“His blood was shed by the most barbaric of men.”

6.47am update: Russian MP says Iran’s retaliation will be in the “near” future

Konstantin Kosachevnd, chair of Russia’s Foreign Affairs Committee: Iran response will be in the near future

6.35am update: Iranian president calls asassination “cowardly”

Iranian President Rouhani says “the assassination of Qassem Soleimani is a cowardly act and confirms the weakness of the United States in the region

6.33am update: Iranian President vows revenge 

Iranian President Rouhani says Iran and “free nations of region” will avenge the killing of Soleimani

Iran news: Qasem Soleimani

Iran news: Qasem Soleimani (Image: GETTY)

6.29am update: Asian stockmarkets fall

Asian shares stumble  after US air strikes in Iraq

6.27am update: Brent oil prices rise after US attack

Brent jumps nearly $3 after US air strike kills Iranian general

6.24am update: Russia issues its first reponse to assassination of Soleimani

Russia says the “assassination of Soleimani” will lead to clashes between Iran’s allies and Americans in Iraq

6.22am update: Iran’s supreme leader issues warning to Trump

Iran’s Khamenei says anti-US resistance to increase after Soleimani death

6.20am update: Number of deaths rises 

Death toll in US airstrikes in Baghdad has risen to 12

6.10am update: Airport reopens 

Baghdad airport reopens for air traffic after killon of Qasem Soleimani

6.08am update: Bernie Sanders describes killing of Soleimani as an “assassination”

Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders appears to be the first Democratic candidate to refer to Soleimani’s death as an “assassination.”

6.05am update: Israel to hold security meeting

Israel to hold an emergency security meeting to assess situation following death of Iran’s Soleimani

World War 3 panic

World War 3 panic: Fears of major conflict escalate (Image: GETTY)

5.59am update: Iran’s Defence Minister warns of “crushing response”

Iran’s Defence Minister said the assassination of Qasem Soleimani will receive a “crushing response”

5.53am update: Iranian Foreign Secretary says assassination will boost resistance in region

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said  the assassination of Quds Force chief Qassem Soleimani would strengthen resistance against the United States and Israel in the region and the world.

Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei has warned Trump of “harsh retaliation is waiting.”

Dollar slips to nine-week low on safe-haven yen as Mideast tensions flare 

5.45am update: Iranian Revoluntionary Guards retaliation threat

The Iranian Revolutionary Guards have also threatened violent retaliation against the United States in response to Soleimani’s death.

5.32am update: Iran declares three days of mourning

The country has confirmed it will going into three days of mourning.

Reports suggest Iran will begin this today following the deaths at Baghdad Airport.

5.29am update: Rockets fired at vehicles carrying ‘high-profile guests’

Sources from the PMF told Al Jazeera that the US rockets which were fired had destroyed two vehicles carrying “high-profile guests”,

They had arrived at the airpot, escorted by a PMF official.

The rockets landed near the air cargo terminal.

They burned two vehicles, killing a total of seven people.

5.23am update: Trump’s previous warning to Iran

Yesterday, Trump ordered the US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division’s alert brigade to deploy to Kuwait with immediate effect, following an attack on the American embassy by supporters of an Iranian backed militia.

He warned Iran that it “will pay a very big price” for any damage or loss of life to US citizens in the embassy.

Trump said: “This is not a warning, it is a threat.”

On Tuesday the US Defence Secretary, Mark Esper, confirmed that 750 paratroopers were already on their way to the Middle East.

Middle East news

Middle East news (Image: EXPRESS)

5.20am update: ‘We’re on the brink of major conflict across the Middle East’

Mr Biden continued: “President Trump just tossed a stick of dynamite into a tinderbox, and he owes the American people an explanation of the strategy and plan to keep safe our troops and embassy personnel, our people and our interests, bother here and abroad, and our partners throughout the region and beyond.

“I’m not privy to the intelligence and much remains unknown, but Iran will surely respond.

“We could be on the brink of a major conflict across the Middle East.”

5.16am update: ‘No American will mourn Soleimani’s passing’ – Biden

Influential figures from across the US have been responding to the attack which took place earlier this morning.

Democrat, and US President hopeful, Joe Biden took to Twitter to post his views.

He said: “No American will mourn Qassem Soleimani’s passing.

“He deserved to be brought to justice for his crime against American troops and thousands of innocents throughout the region.

“He supported terror and sowed chaos.

“None of that negates the fact that this is a huge escalatory move in an already dangerous region.”

5.11am update: Trump shares chilling image after brutal attack

Trump has provoked Iran on social media following a US air-strike which killed General Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ elite Quds Force.

The General was killed in Iraq as part of an operation the Pentagon have said was at “the direction of the president.”

Reports suggest a strike on Baghdad’s international airport took place, a number of people being killed.

The fear now is Iran could made a deadly reprisal.

Read more here.

5.06am update: ‘It’s rouge adventurism!’

A statement from the US Department of Defence said: “Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.”

The Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, called the killing an act of US terrorism and said that the “US bears responsibility for all the consequences of its rogue adventurism.”

The Iranian Revolutionary Guards have also threatened violent retaliation against the United States in response to Soleimani’s death.

5am update: Iran responds

Iran’s foreign secretary Mohammad Javad Zarif said: “The US’ act of international terrorism, targeting and assassinating General Soleimani—THE most effective force fighting Daesh (ISIS), Al Nusrah, Al Qaeda et al—is extremely dangerous and a foolish escalation.

“The US bears responsibility for all consequences of its rogue adventurism.”

4.58am update: What we know so far…

Major-General Qassem Soleimani, widely seen as the second most powerful man in Iran, was killed following a US missile attack at Baghdad’s international airport.

Ahmed al-Assadi, a spokesman for Iraq’s Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) umbrella grouping of Iran-backed militias, also confirmed the deaths of Soleimani and Muhandis.

He said: “The American and Israeli enemy is responsible for killing the mujahideen Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and Qassem Soleimani,”

Sources from the PMF told Al Jazeera that the US rockets destroyed two vehicles carrying “high-profile guests”, who had arrived at the airport and were being escorted by a PMF official.

The rockets landed near the air cargo terminal, burning two vehicles and killing a total of seven people.



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