Tensions between US and Iran continue to escalate after US airstrike kills Qasem Soleimani

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3:56 a.m. ET, January 4, 2020

Here's what it looks like in Baghdad right now

From CNN's Jessie Yeung

Thousands of Iraqis are marching through Baghdad right now, part of a funeral procession for Iraqi paramilitary chief Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani -- who were both killed yesterday in the US air strike.

Mourners at a funeral procession in Kadhimiya, Baghdad, on January 4, 2020.
Mourners at a funeral procession in Kadhimiya, Baghdad, on January 4, 2020. Photo: SABAH ARAR/AFP/Getty Images

A car carrying Soleimani's coffin, with a bouquet of flowers on the hood, is passing slowly through the Baghdad crowd.

Mourners surround a car carrying the coffin of Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad, on January 4, 2020.
Mourners surround a car carrying the coffin of Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad, on January 4, 2020. Photo: SABAH ARAR/AFP via Getty Images

A procession is also happening in the Iraqi city of Karbala, and crowds are growing bigger.

Mourners wave the national flag and the militia flag, and carry portraits of the two men. There is grief, but also anger -- many are chanting "Death to America" as they march.

Mourners carry flags and the portrait Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani.
Mourners carry flags and the portrait Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani. Photo: SABAH ARAR/AFP via Getty Images

3:57 a.m. ET, January 4, 2020

The US will deploy thousands more troops to the Middle East

From CNN's Faith Karimi and Steve Almasy

The US will send thousands of additional troops to the Middle East after President Donald Trump ordered the airstrike that killed one of Iran's most powerful men.

After hundreds of protesters targeted the US Embassy compound in Baghdad earlier this week, the US sent in 750 troops from the Immediate Response Force of the 82nd Airborne Division and said additional deployments were possible.

The new deployment will encompass the rest of the brigade -- about 3,000 soldiers.

Trump's administration has insisted that the strike was ordered to thwart an imminent threat from Iran -- not to start a war. But Democrats say the strike will increase threats to US interests from across the Middle East.

"Today the administration announced we're sending 3,000 more troops to the region," said Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland.

"So clearly the administration recognizes that this action has actually dramatically increased the risks in the Middle East, increased the risks of an attack from Iran and it should be no surprise to anybody who has followed these issues that Iran does mean what it says when it says this is essentially tantamount to an act of war."
3:48 a.m. ET, January 4, 2020

Get caught up: 10 things you need to know about the US airstrike in Baghdad

Obtained by CNN
Obtained by CNN

Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani was killed Friday following a US airstrike.

Here's a recap of what we know:

  • US drone strike kills top commander: President 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. During a news conference from Mar-a-Lago Friday, Trump claimed Soleimani was plotting "imminent and sinister attacks" on Americans.
  • Attack was not about a "regime change": Trump said the US is not seeking regime change in Iran following an attack that killed a top Iranian general. "We do not seek regime change," he said. Trump added: "The Iranian regime's aggression in the region — including its use of proxy fighters to destabilize its neighbors — must end and it must end now."
  • No Congressional sign off sought: Prior to the strike, White House administration lawyers in consultation with national security officials put together a "strong rationale" specifically for the strike against the Iranian general that Trump, as commander in chief, had the authority to not ask for congressional authorization over a matter of self defense, the administration official said. That legal rationale formed the basis for not going to Congress for authorization beforehand. "We did not feel the need to ask for authorization over basic rights of self defense," the official said.
  • 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.
  • Iran vows "harsh revenge": Three days of national mourning were 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.
  • What Trump said: The US President 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.