Iran, Iraq and US: Timeline Since Soleimani Killing

 

 

Here is a recap of events since the killing of top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad by the US on January 3, which escalated tensions between Tehran and Washington:

US assassinates Soleimani

On January 3 a US drone strike on Baghdad’s international airport kills Soleimani, head of the Revolutionary Guard Corps’ foreign operations arm, the Quds Force.

Also among the dead is Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy chief of the Tehran-backed Iraqi paramilitary network Hashed al-Shaabi.

The Pentagon confirms Trump ordered Soleimani’s assassination while the US embassy in Baghdad urges all Americans to leave Iraq “immediately”.

The killing comes days after thousands of pro-Iranian supporters stormed the US embassy in Baghdad, chanting “Death to America!”, angered by US strikes against Hashed bases in Iraq.

Those US strikes, on December 29, had been in retaliation for rocket attacks against US interests in Iraq in which a US civilian contractor was killed.

Iran calls for revenge

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei promises “severe revenge” for Soleimani’s death.

In Iraq caretaker prime minister Adel Abdel Mahdi warns the US strike will “spark a devastating war in Iraq”, while President Barham Saleh pleads for “voices of reason” to prevail.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tells CNN Soleimani had been planning imminent action “that would have put dozens if not hundreds of American lives at risk”.

A Pentagon official says the US is deploying up to 3,500 more troops to the Middle East.

Trump threatens 52 Iran sites

On January 4 Trump warns the US is targeting 52 sites in Iran and will hit them “very fast and very hard” if the Islamic republic attacks American personnel or assets.

He says sites “important to… Iranian culture” are on the list.

The next day Pompeo insists any US military action against Iran will conform to international law after Trump is accused of threatening a war crime by declaring cultural sites as potential targets.

Nuclear deal unravels further

On January 5, Iran announces its fifth step back from the nuclear deal with world powers agreed in 2015, saying it will forgo a “limit on the number of centrifuges”.

Since May 2019 Iran has gradually freed itself from commitments to which it had subscribed, in response to the unilateral withdrawal a year earlier of the US which reinstated economic sanctions against Tehran.

Funeral turns deadly

After days of mourning for Soleimani in Iraq and Iran, a stampede during a massive funeral procession in Iran kills more than 50 people.

In Baghdad, Mahdi confirms he has received what the US called a draft letter describing steps its military would take to “move out” of Iraq.

In Washington, US officials scramble to deny the idea, calling the letter a mistakenly released draft.

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper says the Pentagon’s “policy has not changed. We are not leaving Iraq”.

Iran strikes back

Iran launches a volley of missiles early Wednesday at Iraqi bases housing US and other coalition troops.

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says the strikes are a “slap in the face” for the United States and revenge for Soleimani’s death is yet to come.

Iraq’s military said it sustained no casualties, and US President Donald Trump said initial casualty assessments indicated “all is well”.

Iran Threatens To Attack Israel And US Allies

Protesters hold pictures of Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani, during a demonstration outside the US consulate in Istanbul, on January 5, 2020, two days after top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani was killed by a US drone strike.

 

 

Iranian Revolutionary Guards on Wednesday threatened to attack the US and its allies after Tehran said it carried out a night-time missile strike against US forces in Iraq.

The group urged Washington to recall its troops from the region “in order to avoid further losses and not to allow the lives of their soldiers to be further threatened by the ever-growing hatred” of the US.

More details shortly.

Oil Prices Spike Over 4.5% After Iran Attacks

 

 

Oil prices spiked Wednesday morning, rising over 4.5 percent at one point after Iran fired a barrage of ballistic missiles against two airbases in Iraq used by the US and coalition forces.

The benchmark WTI jumped as much as 4.53 percent to $65.54 a barrel before settling down slightly after Iran unleashed its first response to the US assassination of military commander Qasem Soleimani.


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Trump Says ‘All Is Well’ After Iranian Missiles Target US Troops

 

Iraq Military Says no Iraqi Casualties As Several Missiles Hit Bases

Members of Iraq’s Hashed al-Shaabi military network attempt to break into the US embassy in the capital Baghdad, on December 31, 2019, during a rally to vent anger over weekend air strikes that killed pro-Iran fighters in western Iraq. AHMAD AL-RUBAYE / AFP

 

A total of 22 missiles struck two bases housing US troops in Iraq but there were no Iraqi casualties, the military in Baghdad said Wednesday after the overnight attack.

The statement made no mention of Iran, which claimed that it had fired ballistic missiles at the Ain al-Asad airbase in retaliation for the US killing of a top Iranian general.

“Between 1:45 am and 2:15 am (2245 GMT and 2315 GMT) Iraq was hit by 22 missiles, 17 on the Ain al-Asad airbase and … five on the city of Arbil,” the Iraqi military said.

“There were no victims among the Iraqi forces,” it added but did not mention whether or not there were casualties among foreign troops.

READ ALSO: Netanyahu Warns Of ‘Resounding Blow’ If Iran Attacks Israel

Ain al-Asad is the largest airbase where US-led coalition troops are based.

Arbil is the capital of the Kurdish region, and a top official from the regional government said no American military base or US consulate was hit there.

The official also said there were no casualties in Arbil.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday took to Twitter following the strike to say an “assessment of casualties & damages taking place now”.

“So far, so good!” he wrote.

It was the first time Iran directly targeted a US installation with ballistic missiles.

Over the last two months, US troops and even the embassy in Baghdad had been targeted in more than a dozen rocket attacks that Washington blamed on pro-Tehran groups, but none had been claimed.

Germany ‘Strongly Condemns’ Iran Missile Attacks

German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer arrives for the weekly cabinet meeting on January 8, 2020, at the Chancellery in Berlin. Odd ANDERSEN / AFP

 

Germany’s defence minister condemned Iranian missile attacks on Iraqi bases housing coalition military on Wednesday and called on Tehran to end a “spiral” of conflict.

“The German government strongly condemns this aggression,” Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer told broadcaster ARD.

“It is now crucial that we do not allow this spiral to continue,” said the defence minister, adding that “it is now primarily up to the Iranians to refrain from further escalation.”

Kramp-Karrenbauer said that Germany had been in contact with the US department of defence throughout Tuesday night, and that “all channels” of communication would be opened in a bid to prevent further escalation.

She added that she would seek a meeting of the coalition’s 13 framework nations to discuss the situation in the region.

Separately, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas urged Iran to “refrain from all steps that could lead to further escalation”. He also called on all parties to exercise restraint.

The overnight attack on bases in Al-Asad and Arbil was the latest escalation amid growing tensions in the region since a US drone strike killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani last Friday.

Kramp-Karrenbauer, who is also the leader of Angela Merkel’s ruling conservative party, said the missile attacks could see further withdrawals of German troops in Iraq.

Germany temporarily withdrew 32 of its soldiers from a camp close to Baghdad on Tuesday, and the defence minister said that plans were now being drawn up for a “possible partial withdrawal” from Arbil.

UK Condemns Iran Missile Attacks, Voices Concerns Over Reports Of ‘Casualties’

Britain’s Foreign Secretary and First Secretary of State Dominic Raab carries a cup as he walks to the door of 10 Downing Street in central London on January 6, 2020. Tolga AKMEN / AFP

 

Britain on Wednesday condemned Iran’s missile attacks on Iraqi bases housing coalition military and voiced concern over “reports of casualties” from the strikes.

“We condemn this attack on Iraqi military bases hosting Coalition – including British – forces,” said Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.

“We are concerned by reports of casualties and use of ballistic missiles.”

Iran fired missiles overnight at Iraqi bases housing the US and British military, officials in Washington and Tehran said.

READ ALSO: Iran Claims 80 Americans Killed By Missiles

It was the first act of the Islamic republic’s promised revenge for the US killing of top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani last week.

Launched from Iranian territory and by Iranian forces not a proxy, the attack marked a new turn in the intensifying confrontation between the United States and Iran.

The Pentagon said it was still “working on initial battle damage assessments” after more than a dozen ballistic missiles were launched, with no immediate reports on casualties.

The Iraqi military said it sustained no casualties in 22 missile strikes on bases housing US troops.

Raab urged Iran to show restraint going forward.

“We urge Iran not to repeat these reckless and dangerous attacks, and instead to pursue urgent de-escalation,” he added.

“A war in the Middle East would only benefit Daesh and other terrorist groups,” Raab said, referring to the Islamic State group.

Iran Fired ‘More Than A Dozen’ Missiles At US Forces In Iraq, Says Pentagon

The Pentagon is seen as snow falls on January 7, 2020 in Washington, DC Olivier Douliery / AFP

 

Iran fired “more than a dozen” ballistic missiles Tuesday against two airbases in Iraq where US and coalition forces are based, the Pentagon said.

“At approximately 5.30 pm (2230 GMT) on January 7, Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles against US military and coalition forces in Iraq,” Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement.

“It is clear that these missiles were launched from Iran and targeted at least two Iraqi military bases hosting US military and coalition personnel at Al-Assad and Irbil.”

There were no immediate reports of casualties at the bases.

The attacks came after pro-Tehran factions in Iraq had vowed to “respond” to a US drone strike that killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad last week.

The White House said in a separate statement that President Donald Trump was “monitoring the situation closely and consulting with his national security team.”

Local security sources told AFP earlier that at least nine rockets had slammed into the Ain al-Asad airbase, the largest of the Iraqi military compounds where foreign troops are based.

Iran claimed responsibility, with state TV saying the Islamic republic had launched missiles on the base.

Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy head of Iraq’s Hashed al-Shaabi military network, was killed in the US drone strike alongside Soleiman, seen as the “godfather” of Tehran’s proxy network across the region.

Hoffman said the Pentagon was working on initial battle damage assessments following Tuesday’s airbase attacks.

“In recent days and in response to Iranian threats and actions, the Department of Defense has taken all appropriate measures to safeguard our personnel and partners,” he added.

“These bases have been on high alert due to indications that the Iranian regime planned to attack our forces and interests in the region.”

Hoffman added that the US would take “all necessary measures to protect and defend US personnel, partners, and allies in the region.”

Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives, said the US “must ensure the safety of our service members, including ending needless provocations from the Administration and demanding that Iran cease its violence.”

“America and world cannot afford war,” she added.

Her Democratic House colleague Eliot Engel, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, told CNN however the attacks “could very well” mean that the US was at war.

“The president and his crew had better figure out a way to… tone down everything because we could be in the middle of a full-fledged war, and I don’t think that is something anybody wants,” he said.

Iran Claims 80 Americans Killed By Missiles

Screenshot of missiles fired at an Iraq military bases used by US Troops. AFP

 

Iranian state television claimed that Wednesday missile strikes on bases in Iraq killed 80 Americans, in a report citing what it called an informed Revolutionary Guards source.

Iran launched 22 missiles overnight at the Iraqi bases used by US and other US-led coalition troops, the Iraqi army said.

“At least 80 American military (personnel) were killed in this attack,” the state television website reported.

In addition, it said, unmanned aerial vehicles, helicopters and other military equipment had been severely damaged in the attack.

READ ALSO: Trump Says ‘All Is Well’ After Iranian Missiles Target US Troops

The Revolutionary Guards source said at least 140 targets of the US and their allies had been identified in the region and would be attacked “if the Americans commit any kind of mistake again”.

The source said 15 missiles hit Ain Al-Assad base and none was intercepted by “radars of America’s terrorist army”.

It was the first action of Iran’s promised revenge for the US killing of top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in Iraq last week.

Air France, KLM And Lufthansa Halt Flying Through Iran, Iraq Airspaces

 

 

A growing number of airlines said Wednesday they were avoiding Iranian and Iraqi airspace or flights to the region after Tehran fired ballistic missiles against bases housing US troops in Iraq.

“As a precautionary measure and following news of airstrikes underway, Air France has decided to suspend until further notice all flights through Iranian and Iraqi airspace,” an Air France spokesman told AFP.

Iran launched a series of missiles at the bases housing US troops in the early hours, officials in Washington and Tehran said.

Iran’s supreme leader later called it a “slap in the face” after a US drone strike killed Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani near Baghdad international airport last week.

Shortly after the missile attacks, the US Federal Aviation Administration said it was banning US-registered carriers from flying over Iraq, Iran and the Gulf.

The regions is an important corridor for flights travelling between Europe and Asia, although planes can be rerouted.

A KLM spokesman told AFP: “Until further notice, KLM has no flights over Iranian or Iraqi airspace. All flights to different Southeast Asian destinations and other destinations in the Middle East will be flown through alternative routes.”

In Germany, Lufthansa said it had cancelled its daily flight to Tehran in addition to halting overflights of Iran and Iraq until further notice.

It added that Saturday’s twice-weekly service to northern Iraqi city Erbil would also not depart.

UAE carriers Emirates Airline and low-cost Flydubai said they had cancelled flights to Baghdad for “operational reasons”.

Australia’s Qantas said one of its London-Perth flights would be rerouted, with the other already flying an alternative route.

“We’re adjusting our flight paths over the Middle East to avoid the airspace over Iraq and Iran until further notice,” said a spokesman.

Both Singapore Airlines and Malaysia Airlines said they would divert flights from Iranian airspace.

Vietnam Airlines said it will make “appropriate adjustments” of routes to avoid areas of potential instability although its regular flight paths to Europe do not pass over Iran and Iraq.

Japanese airlines ANA and JAL, and Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific said their planes do not fly through airspace affected by latest flare-up.

White House Says Trump ‘Monitoring’ Reports Of Attack On Base In Iraq

 

The White House said Tuesday President Donald Trump was “monitoring” reports of a rocket attack on an airbase in western Iraq where US and coalition forces are based.

“We are aware of the reports of attacks on US facilities in Iraq. The president has been briefed and is monitoring the situation closely and consulting with his national security team,” White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.

READ ALSO: 176 Killed As Ukrainian Jet Crash In Iran

At least nine rockets slammed into the Ain al-Asad airbase late Tuesday, security sources told AFP, after pro-Tehran factions in Iraq had vowed to “respond” to a US drone strike that killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad last week.

Iran Fires Over A Dozen Missiles On Iraq Base Housing US Troops

 

Iran on Wednesday launched a missile attack on an Iraqi airbase where US forces are based, threatening “more crushing responses” if Washington carried out further strikes, Iranian state media said.

It said the missiles were in response to a US strike last week that killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi top commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

Security sources told AFP that nine rockets hit the sprawling Ain al-Asad airbase in the country’s west, the largest of the Iraqi military compounds where foreign troops are based.

The attack came in three waves just after midnight, the sources said.

READ ALSO: 176 Killed As Ukrainian Jet Crash

Iran swiftly claimed responsibility for the attack, with state TV saying it had launched “tens of missiles” on the base and promised “more crushing responses” if the US carried out further strikes.

The Pentagon said Iran had fired more than a dozen missiles against Ain al-Asad and another installation hosting US and coalition forces near Arbil.

It said bases hosting foreign troops had expected an attack and had been on “high alert” for days.

US President Donald Trump was “monitoring the situation closely and consulting with his national security team,” according to the White House.

The attack came after pro-Tehran factions in Iraq had vowed to join forces to “respond” to the killing of Soleimani and Muhandis last week.

Soleimani was seen as the “godfather” of Tehran’s proxy network across the region and Muhandis, one of his top advisors, was the deputy head of Iraq’s Hashed al-Shaabi military network.

Many factions within the Hashed, which has been incorporated into the Iraqi state, have ties to Tehran.

On Tuesday, a hardline Hashed faction issued its fiercest threat yet to retaliate.

“The US Marines must immediately return to their dens to make their coffins,” said Akram al-Kaabi, head of the Harakat al-Nujaba group.

“The International Resistance Regiments have been formed in order to execute a harsh, deliberate response to the American terrorist forces,” Kaabi added.

His deputy had earlier called for an urgent meeting to unite anti-American forces across Iraq.

“We will wage a war against the American presence in all parts of the region that we can reach,” said Nasr al-Shammary.

US installations across Iraq had faced some 15 rocket attacks in recent months but none had been claimed.

As a result, the US-led coalition and NATO announced they were temporarily suspending their operations in Iraq.

US military Says Three Killed In Kenya Jihadist Attack

 

A jihadist attack on a military base in Kenya killed three people Sunday, including a US service member and two civilian defense contractors, the American military said.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of our teammates who lost their lives today,” General Stephen Townsend, the head of US Africa Command (Africom), said after jihadists from Somalia’s Al-Shabaab group stormed a base in the Lamu region.

Two other Department of Defense personnel were wounded in the attack on Camp Simba, Africom added in a statement which gave no details on the identity of those killed.