The latest on the US-Iran crisis

By Meg Wagner, Eliza Mackintosh, Mike Hayes and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 9:33 a.m. ET, January 11, 2020
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1:13 p.m. ET, January 6, 2020

Here's a look at where US troops are across the Middle East

The US has tens of thousands of troops spread across the Middle East.

According to CNN's Barbara Starr, the US military footprint in the Middle East is "all potentially an Iranian target list." 

Starr adds, "That is the real challenge here. How do you go ahead and protect all of this."

More on this: The US is deploying 3,500 additional troops to the Middle East following the attack that killed top Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani.

Watch more:

9:41 a.m. ET, January 6, 2020

This is the scene at Soleimani's funeral

Tehran's streets were packed with black-clad mourners today as a sea of people turned out to pay their respects to Qasem Soleimani, the Iranian general killed by a US drone strike in Baghdad last week.

The general's body has now been taken to the city of Qom, according to Iran’s semi-official Mehr News Agency.

Here's what the funeral looked like:

9:16 a.m. ET, January 6, 2020

Soleimani's body taken to the city of Qom

From CNN’s Lauren Kent

The body of General Qasem Soleimani has “entered” Qom, Iran, according to Iran’s semi-official Mehr News Agency.

9:08 a.m. ET, January 6, 2020

Trump has threatened to attack Iran's cultural sites. Here's a look at a few of those locations.

President Trump reiterated his threat to target Iranian cultural sites yesterday evening in a conversation with reporters aboard Air Force One.

"They're allowed to kill our people, they're allowed to torture and maim our people, they're allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people, and we're not allowed to touch their cultural sites? It doesn't work that way," Trump said, according to a pool report.

Trump's comments came after two senior US officials described widespread opposition within the administration to targeting cultural sites, which could amount to a war crime.

Here's a look at a few of Iran's heritage sites, as designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization:

Tehran's Golestan Palace (the Rose Garden Palace), built in the 16th century, is a masterpiece of the art of the Qajar period.
Tehran's Golestan Palace (the Rose Garden Palace), built in the 16th century, is a masterpiece of the art of the Qajar period. Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images

The mud brick citadel of the ancient silk road city of Bam, one of the wonders of Iran's heritage. The historic 2,000-year-old citadel was almost completely destroyed in a 2003 earthquake that killed 26,000.
The mud brick citadel of the ancient silk road city of Bam, one of the wonders of Iran's heritage. The historic 2,000-year-old citadel was almost completely destroyed in a 2003 earthquake that killed 26,000. Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images

The tomb of Cyrus II of Persia, known as Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Persian Achaemenid Empire in 6th century BCE in the town of Pasargadae, northeast of the southern city of Shiraz.
The tomb of Cyrus II of Persia, known as Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Persian Achaemenid Empire in 6th century BCE in the town of Pasargadae, northeast of the southern city of Shiraz. Behrouz Mehri/AFP via Getty Images

9:33 a.m. ET, January 11, 2020

Soleimani's daughter says her father's death "will bring darker days" to the US and Israel

From CNN's Chandler Thornton

Iranian General Qasem Soleimani's daughter warned that her father's death "will cause more awakening in the resistance front" and "will bring darker days" for the United States and Israel.

Speaking in front of a large crowd at her father's funeral procession at Tehran University today, Zeinab Soleimani said President Trump's "evil plan to cause separation between two nations of Iraq and Iran" by killing Soleimani and Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis "has failed."

"Trump, you compulsive gambler, your evil plan to cause separation between two nations of Iraq and Iran with your strategic mistake in assassinating both Haj Qasem and Abu Mahdi has failed and it has only caused historical unity between two nations and their mutual eternal hatred for the United States," Zeinab Soleimani said. 

"Hey crazy Trump, you are the symbol of stupidity and a toy in the hand of international Zionists," she added in front of a large crowd at the procession. "This heinous crime committed by the Americans expresses the spirit of criminality and bullying that covers all crimes of bloodshed, especially on the land of Palestine." 

8:49 a.m. ET, January 6, 2020

Russia and Iran discussed "practical steps" for de-escalation, Russian news says

From CNN’s Mary Ilyushina

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu had a phone call today with Iran's Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces Mohammad Bagheri to discuss the killing of general Qasem Soleimani, according to state-run news agency TASS.

"During the conversation, the military leaders discussed practical steps to prevent escalation of the situation in the Syrian Arab Republic and the Middle East region in connection with the assassination of General Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Quds special forces unit," the department said.

Last Friday, Russian Defense Ministry called US killing of Soleimani a "short-sighted act” and praised the general for his “undeniable role in the fight against ISIS.

Late last night, Shoigu also held a phone conversation with the head of Turkey's National Intelligence Organization Hakan Fidan discussing “possible joint actions to decrease tensions” in the Middle East and Northern Africa.

8:46 a.m. ET, January 6, 2020

Crowds gather today for funeral of Iranian general killed by US drone strike

From CNN's Joshua Berlinger

Iranians set a US and Israeli flag on fire during the funeral procession.
Iranians set a US and Israeli flag on fire during the funeral procession. Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images

Tehran's streets were packed with black-clad mourners today as a sea of people turned out to pay their respects to Qasem Soleimani, the Iranian general killed by a US drone strike in Baghdad last week.

The mourners carried photographs of Soleimani, a revered and powerful figure who headed the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps elite Quds Force and led Iran's overseas operations.

Many of those on the streets of the Iranian capital were visibly upset and angry; others shouted "down with the USA" and "death to the USA." Iranian state television said millions attended, although this was yet to be verified.

Soleimani has been hailed a martyr and a hero inside Iran, especially due to his work in the fight against ISIS. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country's ultimate political and religious authority, was photographed praying over Soleimani's body during the funeral ceremony alongside President Hassan Rouhani.

8:41 a.m. ET, January 6, 2020

UK prime minister says states have "right to take action in self defense" after Soleimani killing

 From CNN’s Nada Bashir and James Frater in London 

 

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said states have a “right to take action in self defense” following a US drone strike which killed top Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad on Friday. 

“States have a right to take action, such as this, in self defense,” a Downing Street spokesman said, adding that the UK and the US have a “very strong relationship on security” matters.

According to Downing Street, Johnson was in touch with senior officials on Friday and over the weekend following the strike, and spoke with Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi today to discuss the de-escalation of tensions in the region. 

“The leaders discussed the need to de-escalate tensions in the region following the death of Qasem Soleimani and agreed to work together to find a diplomatic way forward,” Downing Street said in a statement. 

The call between the two leaders follows Iran’s announcement that it will begin to enrich Uranium beyond the limitations set out by the the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action agreement — a development which the Prime Minister has called “concerning,” Downing Street said. 

“The nuclear deal is reciprocal and we are urgently speaking to parties about the next steps,” the statement added. 

8:31 a.m. ET, January 6, 2020

The US and Iran are on heightened alert after a weekend of military action. Here's how it unfolded.

From CNN's Darran Simon

Days after President Trump ordered a drone strike that killed Qasem Soleimani, the powerful commander of Iran's elite Quds Force, the US is bracing for possible retaliatory actions by Iran.

Before the strike, the US had been pushed to the brink of retaliation against Iran or its proxies on multiple occasions, specifically after attacks last summer on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf and oil facilities in Saudi Arabia and Iran's downing of a US drone in June.

Here's how tensions between the two nations have escalated in the past two weeks:

  • Dec. 27: A rocket attack believed to be linked to a Shiite militia group, backed by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, killed a US civilian contractor and wounded several US and Iraq military personnel on a base near Kirkuk, Iraq.
  • Dec 29: According to the Pentagon, US forces conducted airstrikes at five facilities in Iraq and Syria controlled by a Shiite military group known as Kataib Hezbollah -- the group that American officials blamed for the attack on a base near Kirkuk.
  • Tuesday: Pro-Iranian protesters, demonstrating against the American airstrikes, attacked the US Embassy in Baghdad, scaling walls and forcing the gates open.
  • Friday: Trump said he ordered a precision drone strike at the Baghdad airport to "terminate" Soleimani, a top Iranian commander who was plotting "imminent and sinister attacks on Americans diplomats and military personnel." Others were killed in the attack.
  • Saturday: Iran vowed retaliation against the US, in response to the strike. If Iran targets "any Americans or American assets," Trump has said he would sanction specific military strikes against Iranian cultural sites, which could amount to a war crime.
  • Sunday: Soleimani's body arrived in his home country, where thousands mourned him. Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Hossein Dehghan, the military adviser to Iran's Supreme Leader, told CNN in an exclusive interview that Tehran would retaliate directly against US "military sites."