Iran's top general Soleimani killed in US strike

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8:42 a.m. ET, January 3, 2020

Russian military calls US killing of Soleimani "short-sighted"

The Russian Defense Ministry called the US strike that killed Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad "a short-sighted” act that will bring "serious negative consequences” to the entire region, according to Russian state-news agency TASS.

"The short-sighted acts of the US, the assassination of General Soleimani, lead to a sharp escalation of the military-political situation in the Middle East region and serious negative consequences for the entire international security system.”

The Russian Defense Ministry continued to say that Soleimani’s role in the fight against ISIS was “undeniable.”

"Under the direct leadership of Soleimani, long before the formation of the so-called US-led international coalition, an armed resistance was organized [to counter] the international terrorist groups ISIS and Al-Qaeda in Syria and Iraq. His personal contributions to the fight against ISIS in Syria are undeniable,” the Russian military added.

8:38 a.m. ET, January 3, 2020

How will Europe respond to these airstrikes?

President Trump signs a National Security Presidential Memorandum as he announces the withdrawal of the US from the Iran nuclear deal during a "Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action" event at the White House in May 2018. Credit: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images
President Trump signs a National Security Presidential Memorandum as he announces the withdrawal of the US from the Iran nuclear deal during a "Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action" event at the White House in May 2018. Credit: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The US and its European allies parted company on Iran policy a year and a half ago.

In May 2018, President Trump announced he was unilaterally pulling the US out of the multilateral JCPOA — also known as the Iranian nuclear deal.

Ever since then the European cosignatories — the United Kingdom, France, Germany and the European Union — have attempted a conciliatory approach to Iran and have tried to counter the destabilizing effect of Trump’s pullout. 

In the early aftermath of Soleimani’s killing, European governments have urged restraint, as ever keen to give Iran’s Ayatollah a path back to peace.

Some historical context: When Trump ratcheted up sanctions last year, the Europeans created a banking system to help Iran circumvent them and give some relief to its crippled economy. Even so, British warships edged closer to conflict with Iranian forces when British flagged tankers in the Persian Gulf were captured and impounded by Iran.

If Iran escalates tensions in the strategic Strait of Hormuz, European reaction is likely to hew closer to America’s tough position.

The ball is in Iran’s court. How they calibrate their response will determine how much they devise their enemies.

It will be a tricky balance as they seek revenge for the death of a national hero.

8:35 a.m. ET, January 3, 2020

Pompeo: Iranians and Iraqis should view this US action as "giving them their freedom"

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo disputed France's statement that the killing of Qasem Soleimani has made the world less safe. He said Iranians and Iraqis should view the US action as "giving them their freedom."

“Yeah well, the French are just wrong about that,” Pompeo said on CNN’s New Day Friday. “The world is a much safer place today. And I can ensure you that Americans in the region are much safer today after the demise of Qasem Soleimani.”

“We have every expectation that people not only in Iraq but in Iran will view the American action last night as giving them freedom,” Pompeo added. “Freedom to have the opportunity for success and prosperity for their nations and while the political leadership may not want that, the people in these nations will demand it.” 

Pompeo also downplayed protests against the US in Iran. 

“As for the protests you described, there's no doubt the last vestiges of theocracy, the kleptocracy in Iran will continue to try to put down these uprisings from the people,” he said. “They've jailed thousands. They've killed hundreds. It won't surprise me if they try to continue to do that.” 

Pompeo went on to say: “But know this: The Iranian people understand that America is a force for good in the region. And I'm convinced that the support we have provided to people in Iran and the support we will continue to provide for the people of Iraq will work to protect American interests and make lives better for those people as well."

8:32 a.m. ET, January 3, 2020

Here's a look at the streets of Tehran today

Tens of thousands of people are out on the streets in anti-US protests today, after Qasem Soleimani -- a popular figure in the country -- was killed by a US strike.

Here's some images from the capital city Tehran on Friday.

Demonstrators mourn during a protest in Tehran over the US airstrike that killed Iranian Revolutionary Guard General Qassem Soleimani, pictured in placards, in Baghdad on Friday. Credit: Vahid Salemi/AP
Demonstrators mourn during a protest in Tehran over the US airstrike that killed Iranian Revolutionary Guard General Qassem Soleimani, pictured in placards, in Baghdad on Friday. Credit: Vahid Salemi/AP

Protesters amass in Tehran on Friday. Credit:Vahid Salemi/AP
Protesters amass in Tehran on Friday. Credit:Vahid Salemi/AP

A women reacts during a demonstration over the death of General Qassem Soleimani. Credit: Vahid Salemi/AP
A women reacts during a demonstration over the death of General Qassem Soleimani. Credit: Vahid Salemi/AP

Iranians burn a US flag during Friday's demonstration in Tehran. Credit: Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images
Iranians burn a US flag during Friday's demonstration in Tehran. Credit: Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images

8:27 a.m. ET, January 3, 2020

Israel's prime minister lauds Soleimani killing and praises Trump

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, on December 29. Credit: Abir Sultan/Pool/AFP via Getty Images.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, on December 29. Credit: Abir Sultan/Pool/AFP via Getty Images.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised President Trump for the killing of IRGC General Qasem Soleimani, saying that Israel "stands with the United States in its just struggle for peace, security and self-defense."

Speaking before he boarded his flight from Greece back to Israel, Netanyahu said:

"Just as Israel has the right of self-defense, the United States has exactly the same right. Qasem 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."

Netanyahu appeared not to answer when asked if he was briefed on the strike beforehand.

8:38 a.m. ET, January 3, 2020

Sen. Lindsey Graham says he was briefed on airstrike

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, told Fox News this morning that he was briefed about "the potential operation" in Baghdad.

"I was briefed about the potential operation when I was down in Florida. I appreciate being brought into the orbit. I really appreciate president trump letting the world know you cannot kill an American without impunity. We'll stand up for our people. And that is an absolutely essential message," Graham said.

Watch more:

8:19 a.m. ET, January 3, 2020

At least six people killed in US strike that targeted Soleimani

The aftermath of the US drone strike at Baghdad International Airport. Credit: Obtained by CNN
The aftermath of the US drone strike at Baghdad International Airport. Credit: Obtained by CNN

At least six people were killed in the US drone strike in Baghdad that killed Iranian Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani and the Deputy Head of the Iranian-backed Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis on Friday, an Iraqi security source told CNN on condition of anonymity, as they are not authorized to speak to the media.

Two PMF vehicles were struck at the Baghdad International airport and at least six people have been killed, the source said. The death toll “is not a final number, but an official number” since other victims of the attack have yet to be identified, the source said.

Iran’s ambassador to Iraq, Iraj Masjedi, said earlier on Friday that at least 10 people were killed in the attack, according to semi-official news agency Mehr News. All the passengers in the vehicles carrying Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, which included four associates and bodyguards were killed, Masjedi said.

 

8:23 a.m. ET, January 3, 2020

What you need to know about the US airstrike in Baghdad

Debris from the airstrike at Baghdad airport is seen on Friday. Credit: Obtained by CNN
Debris from the airstrike at Baghdad airport is seen on Friday. Credit: Obtained by CNN

Americans are waking up to news of the US air strike in Baghdad, which killed Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani and a number of others.

Here's a recap of what we know.

  • US drone strike kills top commander: US President Donald Trump ordered an air strike on Baghdad airport that killed Qasem Soleimani, who as head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force became the architect of Tehran's proxy conflicts in the Middle East.
  • A huge escalation: Trump's move dramatically ramps up regional tensions that have pitted Tehran against Washington and its allies in the Middle East. The Pentagon blamed Soleimani for hundreds of deaths of Americans and their allies in several attacks in recent months.
  • Pompeo says attack saved US lives: Soleimani had been involved in planning an "imminent attack" in the region that put American lives at risk, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told CNN on Friday. He said the US made an intelligence-based assessment that killing Soleimani would save Americans.
  • Iran vows 'harsh revenge': Three days of national mourning have been declared in Iran, where Soleimani was revered as a national hero, and thousands of demonstrators were seen marching in Tehran. The Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called for "harsh revenge," according to a statement published to his official website.
  • Trump: Iran 'never won a war': Donald Trump tweeted combative remarks on Friday morning, writing: "Iran never won a war, but never lost a negotiation!"
  • US tells citizens to get out of Iraq: The State Department urged US citizens Friday to leave Iraq immediately. It also warned that citizens "should not approach" its embassy in Baghdad and that all consular operations are suspended.
  • Democrats warn of consequences: The strike has divided US lawmakers, with several Democratic presidential candidates raising concerns about what comes next. Joe Biden said Trump "tossed a stick of dynamite into a tinderbox," and Bernie Sanders said the move "puts us on the path" to war with Iran.
  • World governments react: Russia has cautioned that the attack could have "grave consequences," while China has urged the US to show "restraint." In Europe, the UK called for "all parties to de-escalate." The French government told its citizens in Iran to stay away from public gatherings.
  • Oil prices soar: Oil prices moved higher after the strike amid speculation that reprisals could target oil installations. Futures for Brent crude, a global benchmark, jumped 4.3% to $69.08 per barrel on Friday. US oil futures gained 4.1%, reaching $63.69 per barrel. Both are on track for their biggest daily gains in about a month.
7:55 a.m. ET, January 3, 2020

Trump: "Iran never won a war"

US President Donald Trump has tweeted a combative message towards Iran, in his first remarks since ordering the drone strike that killed Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani.

"Iran never won a war, but never lost a negotiation!" he wrote, in an apparent slight against the nuclear deal his predecessor Barack Obama negotiated with the country.

Trump's only previous tweet after the attack showed an image of the American flag.