The US embassy in Baghdad has urged Americans to leave Iraq immediately following the killing of Tehran’s top military commander in Iraq in an airstrike ordered by Donald Trump. Public consular services are also suspended.
Qassem Soleimani, the head of the elite Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force, was killed near Baghdad Airport alongside Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a senior commander in Iraq’s militia.
Brett McGurk, a former special envoy in the coalition to defeat Isis under both Barack Obama and Mr Trump, said in an interview with MSNBC that while Mr Soleimani’s death was “a measure of justice done”, Americans “need to presume … that we are in a state of war with Iran”.
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Thousands chant ‘death to America’ at Iran prayers
The assassination of Qassem Soleimani, the most famous Iranian general, by a US airstrike as he left Baghdad airport ensures an escalation in hostilities between the US and Iran, writes Patrick Cockburn.
The most serious consequence is likely to be that the Iranian leadership will use the killings to pressure the Iraqi government to expel US forces from Iraq.
The Iranian government will not be the only ones looking to retaliate. Among those who died in the car in which Major-General Soleimani was travelling was Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the head of the pro-Iranian paramilitary group Kata’ib Hezbollah, whose militants could well resume their assault on the US embassy in the Green Zone in Baghdad, where they staged a limited incursion earlier this week.
Crucially, the Iraqi security forces stood aside, underlining the vulnerability of the US embassy and all US bases in Iraq, where 5,000 US troops are stationed.
Now Donald Trump is starting up his more usual, politicised Twitter activity, retweeting a broadcaster’s post about the anti-US campaigns of Qassem Soleimani.
Mike Pompeo has claimed the US “remains committed to de-escalation” in its relationship with Iran, following the drone killing of Tehran’s top general.
Governments around the world had urged restraint in the hours after the news broke.
On Friday the US secretary of state said on Twitter that he had spoken to several of his opposite numbers about the airstrike.
Benjamin Netanyahu has released a statement, which is strongly supportive of his close ally Donald Trump.
He said: “Just as Israel has the right of self-defense, the United States 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.
President 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-defense”.
Mr Trump has won favour with Mr Netanyahu by moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and supporting Israeli settlement-building.
Hundreds of mourners gather outside home of assassinated Iranian general Soleimani in Kerman
Donald Trump is awake. So far he’s only retweeted travel advisories, but that may change…
Oil prices spiked and stock markets opened lower on Friday after a US airstrike killed Iranian major-general Qassem Soleimani, head of the elite Quds force, in a major escalation of hostility between Washington and Tehran, writes Ben Chapman.
Brent Crude rose 3.8 per cent to $68.87 while another key benchmark price, West Texas Intermediate, was up 3.7 per cent to $68.77 by mid-morning.
A sustained rise in oil prices would push up prices for consumers at the pumps and increase costs for businesses.
Donald Trump has likely not considered the ramifications of his order to kill Qassem Soleimani, an American former diplomat has claimed.
Nicholas Burns, the ex-US ambassador to Nato, tweeted: “If Soleimani was planning strikes against our embassies, the U.S. had a legitimate right to stop him.
“But has Trump considered next 15 moves on chessboard? How to protect our people? Line up allies to support us? Contain Iran but avoid wider war? My guess is he hasn’t.”
“If you think the war in Iraq was a disaster, my guess is the war in Iran would be even worse.” That’s the message from Bernie Sanders, who is campaigning to become the Democratic nominee for president.
Talking up his anti-war credentials in a video, the Vermont senator said he would “do everything in my power to prevent a war with Iran”.
Donald Trump has been accused of hypocrisy for ordering the killing of a top Iranian general, after a series of tweets emerged from 2011 of him saying former president Barack Obama would start a war with Iran in order to get re-elected, writes Kate Ng.
Qassem Soleimani was one of the most powerful figures in Iran, enjoying a close relationship with supreme leader Ali Khamenei. Tehran has vowed “harsh vengeance” for his death.
Between 2011 and 2015, Mr Trump tweeted multiple times that Mr Obama was vying to start a war with Iran because of “his inability to negotiate”.
The European Council has urged all sides to avoid further escalation of violence in Iraq.
In a statement its president, Charles Michel, said: “The cycle of violence, provocations and retaliations which we have witnessed In Iraq over the past few weeks has to stop. Further escalation must be avoided at all cost.
“Iraq remains a very fragile country. Too many weapons and too many militias are slowing the process towards a return to normal daily life for Iraq’s citizens.
“The risk is a generalised flare-up of violence in the whole region and the rise of obscure forces of terrorism that thrive at times of religious and nationalist tensions.”
German soldiers who have helped train Iraqi security forces have been ordered not to leave their bases.
While training activities will continue, the 130 troopers will not be allowed to move outside their facilities in Taji and Baghdad, the country’s defence ministry said.
A spokesman for Iran’s Revolutionary Guard broke down on television following the death of Qassem Soleimani, demonstrating the regard in which he was held at home.
The British government has appeared to back the US killing of an Iranian general, branding the target an “aggressive threat”, writes Jon Stone.
Foreign secretary Dominic Raab called for calm following the American drone strike near the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, which killed Qasem Soleimani, who was visiting the city.
The strike, ordered by Donald Trump, appears to have dragged the two countries towards a deepening conflict – with Iran’s leader pledging “revenge” for the “criminal” attack.
Kayleigh McEnany, the press secretary for Donald Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign, has claimed the killing of Qassem Soleimani was the “greatest foreign policy accomplishment of the decade, if not our lifetime”
Jeremy Corbyn, the outgoing Labour leader, has urged the government to take a stand against the “belligerent actions and rhetoric” from Washington after Donald Trump ordered Iran’s top general killed.
The airstrike that killed Qassem Soleimani was “an extremely serious and dangerous escalation of conflict in the Middle East with global significance”, Mr Corbyn said.
Barham Salih, the Iraqi president, has urged all sides to practise restraint in the wake of the death of Qassem Soleimani, which he condemned. Iraq must avoid further armed conflict, he said.
Wreckage from US airstrike seen at Baghdad Airport