US senators slam WH briefing on Soleimani: All the latest updates

Lawmakers say Trump officials failed to present proof justifying Iranian general’s killing without Congress’ approval.

US President Donald Trump(C) speaks about the situation with Iran in the Grand Foyer of the White House in Washington, DC, January 8, 2020. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP)
The Iran-backed Iraqi militia group Popular Mobilisation Forces has vowed that it will also avenge the killing of their commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandi and Soleimani [Murtaja Lateef/Reuters]

Iran has fired more than a dozen missiles at two Iraqi military bases hosting US troops, the Pentagon confirmed.  

The rockets fired at the Ain al-Asad base in Anbar province and a base in Erbil early on Wednesday came amid escalating tensions between Washington and Tehran following the US killing of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in Iraq last week.

Iran had pledged retaliatory attacks against the US for the killing of Soleimani, who the US President Donald Trump said that plotting an ‘imminent attack’ on American forces.

Here are all of the latest updates as of Thursday, January 9

US to UN: We’ll take more action ‘as necessary’ to protect troops in Mideast

The United States government told that UN that it is prepared to take additional action “as necessary” in the Middle East to protect American personnel and interests in the region.

In a letter to the UN Security Council, US Ambassador Kelly Craft said the killing of Soleimani in Baghdad on Friday was justified under Article 51 of the UN Charter.

Under Article 51, countries are required to “immediately report” to the 15-member Security Council any measures taken in exercising the right of self-defence. The United States used Article 51 to justify taking action in Syria against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) in 2014.

US senators denounce ‘lack of evidence’ to justify killing of Soleimani

Utah Senator Mike Lee, who belongs to US President Donald Trump’s Republican Party, has questioned the administration’s classified briefing on the killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, calling it “the worst” that he has ever attended.

In a press conference in Washington DC, Lee told reporters that he found it “really upsetting” that Trump’s intelligence officials refused to provide information that led to the president’s decision to order Soleimani’s killing.

Another Republican Senator Rand Paul said he “did not learn anything from the hearing” that he had not seen previously from news reports, adding that prospects for diplomacy has been diminished because of Trump’s action. 

Meanwhile, in an interview with CNN, Democratic Senator Chris Murphy said “there was no evidence of an imminent and specific threat” from Soleimani to take the US action.

“That was fairly shocking to us, the lack of evidence. Without that, the president doesn’t have the authority to take military action, without coming to Congress first.”

Majority of the Republicans, who contronl the Senate, however defended the decision of Trump.  

PM Morrison says Australia not withdrawing troops from Iraq

Australian troops and personnel will stay in Iraq to continue their mission, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday, as tensions eased following an Iranian attack on US forces there.

Speaking to reporters, Morrison added that an Australian naval vessel would travel as planned toward the Strait of Hormuz this week, to help protect shipping in the area.            

Wednesday, January 8:

Iraqis denounce missile attacks as ‘violation of sovereignty’

Iran’s missile attack on military bases in Iraq hosting US troops has raised questions over Iraq’s sovereignty and reflected Tehran’s deep-rooted influence over Baghdad.

“The strikes were definitely a violation of our sovereignty,” 24-year-old Rayyan al-Jaaf told Al Jazeera. “What Iran did was the same as the US when it launched a missile in Baghdad to kill Soleimani.

“Both were assaults on Iraq, yet the government has been mostly silent,” he added. 

Read the full story here.

Duelling narratives after US House briefings on Iran 

US Democrats and Republicans presented duelling narratives after a classified briefing with top administration officials on the killing of Soleimani.

While Republicans praised Trump for ordering the killing, Democrats said they were not convinced the “imminent threat” the administration claimed in its justification existed.

“Not only did the president make the right call but this was a clear and present danger for American interests and American individuals,” said Republican Representative Mark Meadows.

However, Democratic Representative Gerry Connolly called the Trump team’s briefing “sophomoric and utterly unconvincing” and called the US killing of Soleimani “impulsive, reckless”.

Iraq’s Sadr says crisis is over, tells militias to stand down

Influential Iraqi Shia leader Moqtada al-Sadr said the crisis Iraq was experiencing is over following de-escalation rhetoric from Iran and the US and called on militia groups not to carry out attacks.

A new strong Iraqi government able to protect the nation’s sovereignty and independence should be formed in the next 15 days and usher in an early election, al-Sadr said in a statement, adding that Iraqis should still seek to expel foreign troops.

“I call on the Iraqi factions to be deliberate, patient, and not to start military actions, and to shut down the extremist voices of some rogue elements until all political, parliamentary and international methods have been exhausted,” he said.

Explainer: Iran’s ballistic missiles

Western defence planners estimate Iran’s inventory of short and medium-range ballistic missiles to be slightly over 200, the bulk of which are under the control of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

With ranges of up to 2,500km (1,554 miles), the latest missiles, like the Sejjil-2 are solid-fuelled. This means the time needed to launch a missile is much shorter, while its range allows it to hit most targets in the Middle East. 

INTERACTIVE: Iran ballistic missiles 2020

Trump: Iran ‘appears to be standing down’

US President Donald Trump has said Iran “appears to be standing down”, a sign that Washington will not seek a response.

Trump was addressing the nation from the White House on Wednesday following the Iranian missile attacks on US forces in Iraq where he said “no Americans were killed”.

“As long as I am leader, Iran will never have nuclear weapons,” he said.

He said he will ask NATO “to become much more involved” in the Middle East. 

Read the full story here.

Iran believed to have deliberately evaded US forces in missile attack

Iran is believed to have deliberately sought to avoid US military casualties, according to US and European government sources familiar with intelligence assessments.

The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Iranians were thought to have targeted the attacks to miss US forces to prevent the crisis from escalating out of control while still sending a message of Iranian resolve.

A source in Washington said overnight that early indications were of no US casualties, while other US officials declined comment.

UN: Iraq ‘should not pay price for external rivalries’

The UN mission in Iraq said the country should not be made to “pay the price” in the escalating conflict between Tehran and Washington.

In a statement, the UN mission said that the latest strikes “again violate Iraqi sovereignty”.

“We call for urgent restraint and a resumption of dialogue. Iraq should not pay the price for external rivalries,” the statement added.

What happened in Iraq? A quick summary 

  • At about 1:30am local time on Wednesday (22:30 GMT on Tuesday), Iran fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles from its territory against at least two Iraqi facilities hosting US-led coalition personnel, the US military said.
  • The missiles hit two bases: Ain al-Asad in Anbar province and a facility in Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region. 
  • No casualties have been officially confirmed so far.
  • In a speech in Tehran after the attack, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei said: “The corrupt presence of the US in the region should come to an end”, calling the missile attack a “slap in the face” of the US.
  • Trump said “all is good” on Twitter hours after the attacks. He said would make a statement on Wednesday morning. 
  • Read more here

NATO chief condemns Iran rocket attacks

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg condemned the attacks and called on Iran to refrain from further violence.

“Allies continue to consult & remain committed to our training mission in Iraq,” Stoltenberg wrote on Twitter.
A NATO official said that there were no casualties among the troops on its training mission in Iraq, though on Tuesday the alliance said it was moving some personnel out because of the increased danger following Soleimani’s killing.

Report of US withdrawal incorrect, KUNA agency hacked: Kuwait

Kuwait’s government said a report posted on the state news agency KUNA saying all US military forces in Kuwait would be withdrawn imminently was incorrect and that KUNA had been “hacked”.

The statement denying the report about US troops was issued on Twitter by Tareq al-Muzarem, head of Kuwait’s government communication office.

US-Iran escalation threatens aid to millions: charity

The escalating cycle of reprisals between the US and Iran is threatening the delivery of aid to millions across the Middle East, the Norwegian Refugee Council warned.

“Tens of millions of people across the Middle East need humanitarian assistance. Most of them are already devastated or displaced by conflict,” NRC chief Jan Egeland said in a statement.
“Another confrontation among international and regional powers would be deadly for aid lifelines on the brink of collapse,” he warned.
“Twenty-four million war-affected Yemenis and 12 million Syrians displaced within the region are extremely vulnerable to any escalation in conflict, sanctions or restrictions on movement,” Egeland said.

Airlines avoiding flying through Iran and Iraq airspace

A growing number of airlines including Air France, Dutch KLM and German Lufthansa said they were avoiding Iranian and Iraqi airspace for flights to the region.

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

Polish LOT, Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Swiss International Air Lines and Australian carrier Qantas have also altered their routes.

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.
Its Russian counterpart, the Federal Air Transport Agency, said it was recommending airlines avoid the air space over Iran, Iraq and the Persian and Oman Gulfs.

Read more here.

France condemns the strikes

“France would like to highlight again the importance of continuing the fight against Islamic State (ISIL or ISIS), while respecting the sovereignty of Iraq,” the French Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Iraqi PM warned about imminent attack from Iran: spokesman

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi received a verbal message from Iran informing him its retaliation to the US killing of Soleimani was either imminent or under way, his spokesman said in a statement.

Tehran told Abdul Mahdi it would only target locations where US forces were present but did not specify the locations, his spokesman said.

Abdul Mahdi simultaneously received a call from the US while missiles were falling on the two air bases, the spokesman said.

He said he warned Iraqi forces as soon as he received word of the attack.

Abdul Mahdi called on all sides to practise self-restraint and adhere to international agreements, adding that Iraq rejects any violation of its sovereignty and attacks on its soil. 

Iraqi Kurdish leaders call for region to be kept out of rivalries

The leaders of Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region said that the support of a US-led military coalition in fighting ISIL (also known as ISIS) was vital and urged its member states not to allow the group’s revival.

The regional president, prime minister, and parliamentary speaker expressed concern at the escalation.

“In regards to the recent events, and in particular this morning’s, the Kurdistan Region reiterates that military solution will in no way solve the problems,” they said in a statement.

“The Kurdistan Region supports de-escalation of the situation and seeks dialogue and diplomatic solution to the problems. It also seeks stability and peace and urges all parties to refrain from dragging the Kurdistan Region into the rivalries.”

Iran-backed Iraqi militia leader vows ‘Iraqi response’: Tweet

Iran-backed Iraqi militia commander Qais al-Khazali said that Iran had made its initial response for the US killing its top general, and it was now time for Iraq to do so as well.

Iraq’s response will not be lesser than that of Iran’s tweeted Khazaili, who leads the Asaib Ahl al-Haq group which the US has designated a terrorist organisation.

“The initial Iranian response to the assassination of the martyred commander Soleimani has happened. Now it is time for the initial response to the assassination of the martyred commander Muhandis. And because Iraqis are brave and zealous, their response will not be any less than that or Iran’s. That is a promise,” he said.

Turkish minister to visit Iraq to ease tensions

Turkey’s foreign minister will visit Iraq to try to ease tensions, the foreign ministry said.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu will travel to Iraq as part of Ankara’s “intensified diplomatic efforts to alleviate the escalated tension in the aftermath of recent developments in the region”, the ministry said in a statement.

Cavusoglu also spoke to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif by phone, it said in a separate statement.

China urges restraint

China urged restraint from all sides, saying Beijing would play a “responsible role” in helping to defuse tensions.
“It is not in the interest of any party that the situation in the Middle East worsens further,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a regular press briefing.

Geng said China would “play a responsible role in promoting a de-escalation of the situation as soon as possible”.

Lufthansa halts overflying Iran and Iraq

German airline giant Lufthansa said it would not overfly Iran and Iraq “until further notice”.

“We are no longer overflying Iran and Iraq until further notice,” a Lufthansa spokesman told AFP, adding that Wednesday’s daily Frankfurt-Tehran flight was cancelled, while Saturday’s twice-weekly service to northern Iraqi city Erbil would also not depart.

Any country attacking Israel will be dealt ‘strongest blow’: Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyhahu warned that his country would strike back hard against anyone who attacked it, as he reiterated his support for the US killing of Soleimani.

“Whoever tries to attack us will be dealt the strongest blow,” Netanyahu said in Jerusalem.

He said that Israel “stands completely” beside US President Donald Trump’s decision, saying Trump should be congratulated for acting “swiftly, boldly and resolutely”.

Khamenei and Trump react to Iranian missile attacks

Spain says it has withdrawn some of its troops from Iraq

Spain has pulled out some of its troops from Iraq due to security concerns, acting Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo said.

“Those who were in riskier positions have left for Kuwait,” Calvo told state broadcaster RTVE. “There is only a reduced number left there.”

The decision comes as NATO announced it would move some of its military training personnel out of Iraq amid fears of a regional conflagration.

Germany ‘strongly condemns’ Iran missile attacks: Defence minister

Germany’s defence minister condemned Iranian missile attacks on Iraqi bases housing coalition military 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”.
She added that she would seek a meeting of the coalition’s 13 framework nations to discuss the situation in the region.

EU promises to try to save Iran nuclear deal despite setback

The EU said it “will spare no efforts” in its attempts to keep alive an international deal preventing Iran from developing atomic weapons.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said her foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell will continue to work “in the midterm” to reach out to all participants in the global deal in the hopes that the 2015 nuclear agreement can still be saved despite a rollback on commitments from Tehran.

Speaking alongside von der Leyen, Borrell urged all parties involved in the growing tensions to eschew more military action.

“The latest rocket attack on airbases in Iraq used by US and coalition forces, among them European, is yet another example of escalation and increased confrontation. It is in no one’s interest to turn up the spiral of violence even further,” he said.

Borrell has invited Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to Brussels for talks. The EU foreign ministers have organised a special meeting on Friday to discuss the ongoing crisis.

UAE says region must pull back from ‘troubling’ tensions

The United Arab Emirates Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said it is essential that the region pulls back from current “troubling” tensions.

“De-escalation is both wise and necessary. A political path towards stability must follow,” he said on Twitter.

A handout picture provided by the office of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei shows him addressing a meeting in Teharn on January 8, 2020. Khamenei said a
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addresses the public in Tehran on January 8, 2020 [Iranian supreme leader’s website/AFP]

Attacks on US targets were ‘legitimate self-defence’: Iran

Iran’s missile attacks on US targets in Iraq were “legitimate self-defence”, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told state TV, adding that Washington’s assessment to retaliate should not be based on “illusions”.

“Our action was a legitimate self-defence and the United States should avoid assessing it based on illusions,” Zarif said.

Iran responding to US by cutting off America’s ‘leg’ in region: Rouhani

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told the US that Washington might have “cut off the arm” of Soleimani but America’s “leg” in the region would be cut off in response, Iran’s Fars news agency reported.

Iran’s supreme leader tells US to leave the region

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei said the US should withdraw from the region and said Tehran’s missile attacks on US targets in Iraq were “a slap on the face” for America.

“Military action like this is not sufficient. What is important is ending the corrupting presence of America in the region,” Khamenei said in a televised speech, ruling out any resumption of talks with Washington about a 2015 nuclear deal.

Khamenei also said the US was trying to remove Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement in its bid to help Israel.

Read more here.

No Polish troops hurt: minister

No Polish troops stationed in Iraq were hurt, Poland’s defence minister said.

“None of the Polish soldiers in Iraq were hurt in rocket attacks on al-Asad and Erbil bases. We are in constant contact with the commander of the Polish Military Contingent in Iraq,” Mariusz Blaszczak wrote on Twitter.

Dozens killed in stampede at Qassem Soleimani’s funeral in Iran

Iraqi oil facilities secure: OPEC

Iraqi oil facilities are secured and the country’s production is continuing, OPEC’s Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo.

“It’s a big relief that the facilities continue to be secured in Iraq, the production is continuing and effective,” Barkindo said on the sidelines of a conference in Abu Dhabi.

He said he was optimistic Iraq would reach 100 percent compliance with OPEC cuts in time, despite current tensions.

In a message to US President Donald Trump, Barkindo said the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) alone could not shoulder the responsibility of maintaining a stable oil market.

Britain condemns attack on military bases

Britain condemned the attacks on military bases in Iraq that hosted US-led coalition forces including British personnel.

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

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

Emirates Airline cancels Baghdad flight

Dubai-based Emirates Airline cancelled a return flight to Baghdad.

“We are carefully monitoring the developments and are in close contact with the relevant government authorities with regards to our flight operations, and will make further operational changes if required,” Emirates said in a statement.

Its sister carrier, FlyDubai, also cancelled a flight to Baghdad.

Soleimani killing: Iranian-American community reacts to tension

Iran’s president to deliver speech

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will deliver a speech on Wednesday, Iranian state television reported.

No Iraqi casualties in 22-missile attack overnight: Military

The Iraqi military said in a statement that 22 missiles were launched on the Ain al-Asad air base and a base in Erbil between 1:45am and 2:15am, but there were no casualties among Iraqi forces.

It said two of the 17 missiles targeting Ain al-Asad base did not go off.

The five on Erbil all targeted coalition headquarters.

Norway says none of its troops injured or killed

No Norwegian troops were injured or killed in the attack on the Ain al-Asad air base in Iraq, a Norwegian military spokesman told Reuters news agency.

The country has about 70 soldiers at the base, said Brynjar Stordal at Norway’s military headquarters.

Denmark says none of its soldiers wounded or killed

The Danish armed forces said in a Twitter post none of its soldiers were wounded or killed in the missile strike on the Ain al-Asad airbase.

Denmark has about 130 soldiers at the base as part of the international coalition fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) armed group.

Iran launches missile attacks on US forces in Iraq

80 ‘US terrorists’ killed in attack: Iranian state TV

Iranian state television claimed that at least 80 “American terrorists” were killed in attacks involving 15 missiles Tehran launched on US targets in Iraq, adding that none of the missiles were intercepted. The claim could not be independently verified and the state television did not provide evidence of how it obtained that information.

Citing a senior Revolutionary Guards Corps source, the state television also said Iran had 100 other targets in the region in its sights if Washington took any retaliatory measures.

It also said US helicopters and military equipment were “severely damaged”.

India issues travel warning on Iraq

India issued a travel warning asking its citizens to avoid “non-essential” travel to Iraq.

“In view of the prevailing situation in Iraq, Indian nationals are advised to avoid all non-essential travel to Iraq until further notification,” India’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

“Indian nationals residing in Iraq are advised to be alert and may avoid travel within Iraq,” it said, adding that the Indian embassy in Baghdad and consulate in Erbil remain operational.

Pakistan warns citizens to ‘exercise maximum caution’

Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs advised Pakistan citizens planning to visit Iraq to “exercise maximum caution”.

Those already in Iraq are advised to remain in close contact with Pakistan’s embassy in Baghdad.

A handout screengrab grab taken from a video released by Iranian state TV (IRIB) shows rockets lunched from Iran against the US military base in Ein-al Asad in Iraq, 08 January 2020. According to Iran
A handout screengrab grab taken from a video released by Iranian state TV (IRIB) shows rockets launched from Iran against the US military base in Ein-al Asad in Iraq [EPA]

IRGC threatens attacks on Dubai and Haifa if Washington retaliates

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) warned on their Telegram channel that in the event that Iranian soil is bombed, they would launch a third wave of attacks to destroy Dubai and Haifa.

Japan urges diplomacy after Iran missile attack

Japan urged a return to diplomacy and called on governments to do their utmost to help ease tensions following the Iranian missile attack at bases in Iraq used by US forces.

Japanese Chief Cabinet spokesman Yoshihide Suga said the government would “coordinate with the related governments to collect intelligence while we ensure the safety of Japanese citizens in the region”. 

“Japan will also urge all related nations to do their utmost diplomatic effort to improve the relations,” he added. 

US security posture in UAE unchanged after Iraq attacks: Official

The United States has maintained its security posture in key ally the United Arab Emirates, a spokesperson from the US embassy said.

“The US security posture in the UAE has not changed,” the spokesperson told Reuters.

Oil surges, stocks fall after Iran attack

Oil prices surged after the Iran attack on US forces in Iraq, raising the prospect of a regional conflagration that could disrupt oil supplies. Stocks fell sharply.

Brent crude futures soared $1.83, or 2.7 percent, to $70.10 by about 01:48 GMT, after earlier rising to $71.75, the highest since mid-September 2019.

Gold bar
The price of gold soared in the wake of the Iran attacks as investors worried about further escalations [File: Tamara Abdul Hadi/Reuters]

The price of gold also shot higher, rising 1.91 percent on the spot market to $1,603.93 per ounce ($30,161.88 per gramme) as investors rushed for safe-haven investments.

“We’ve moved on from how Iran will respond to now anticipating the US 52-pronged response as the US military forces in the region are in a heightened state of alert while likely preparing for war,” said Stephen Innes, strategist at AxiTrader. “It’s not going to be pretty today.”

Read more here.

Philippines to evacuate citizens from Iraq

The Philippines has ordered a mandatory evacuation of Filipinos in Iraq, its foreign ministry said on Wednesday following the attack on US forces there.

“The Alert Level in the entire Iraq has been raised to Alert Level 4 calling for mandatory evacuation,” said Eduardo Mendez, a spokesman at the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Iranian official warns any US retaliation will lead to regional war

Any US retaliation to Iran’s missile attacks on American targets in Iraq could lead to an all-out war in the Middle East, an adviser to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani tweeted on Wednesday.

“Any adverse military action by the US will be met with an all out war across the region. The Saudis, however, could take a different path – they could have total peace!” Hessameddin Ashena said in a statement on Twitter.


Trump tweets ‘all is well’ 

Following the attacks, Trump said “all is well” and he will be making a statement on Wednesday morning local time. 

“All is well!” Trump tweeted. “Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq. Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good! We have the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world, by far! I will be making a statement tomorrow morning.”

Zarif: Iran took proportionate measures in self-defence

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Twitter that Iran took what it considered to be proportionate measures and does not seek an escalation of war. 

Iran took & concluded proportionate measures in self-defense under Article 51 of UN Charter targeting base from which cowardly armed attack against our citizens & senior officials were launched. We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression,” Zarif tweeted. 

Soleimani buried 

Iran has buried the top Revolutionary Guard general killed by a US airstrike in Baghdad.

The burial of Qassem Soleimani came after a stampede at his funeral killed 56 and Iran launched a ballistic missile attack on Iraqi bases housing American troops in response to his assassination. 

Officials lowered the shroud-wrapped remains of Soleimani into the ground in the southeastern city of Kerman just before 6am Wednesday local time.

Australian PM says all personnel in Iraq safe

Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison said all of the country’s diplomatic and military personnel stationed in Iraq were safe, after Iran launched missile attacks on US bases there.

Speaking to reporters from a bushfire-ravaged island in southern Australia, Morrison said the situation in Iraq was very fluid and he was receiving constant updates.

Morrison said he would be returning to the capital, Canberra, later on Wednesday to meet with defence chiefs and the relevant ministers.

Pompeo briefs Kurdistan PM Barzani on Iran missile attacks

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo briefed Kurdistan Regional Government Prime Minister Masrour Barzani on Iran’s missile attacks on two Iraqi military bases, including in Erbil, the State Department said in a statement.

“The Secretary and Prime Minister Barzani agreed to stay in close touch as the situation develops,” the statement said.

IRGC commander says missile attacks ‘first step’: State TV

Iran’s missile attacks on US targets in Iraq was the first step and Tehran will not spare American troops, Iranian state TV quoted a Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) commander as saying.

“The missile attacks today were just the first step (US President Donald) should think about withdrawing its troops from the region and not to leave them within our reach,” Iranian state TV quoted the commander as saying, without naming him.

iraq us bases map

US official: Very few if any casualties from Iranian attack on sites in Iraq

There have been very few casualties, if any, from the Iranian attacks on sites hosting US forces in Iraq, a US official told the Associated Press news agency. 

Iran’s telecommunications minister: ‘Get the hell out of our region’ 

Following Wednesday’s attacks, Iranian telecommunication minister Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi tweeted: “Get the hell out of our region!” 

Biden: I’m holding off on making a comment

Joe Biden, the former US vice president and a frontrunner in the 2020 Democratic presidential race, tweeted he was going to hold off on making a comment on Wednesday’s strike. 

“I’m going to hold off on commenting on the news tonight until we know more, but there is one thing I will say: Jill and I are keeping our troops and Americans overseas in our prayers. We hope you’ll keep them in yours,” Biden tweeted. 

US FAA bans airlines from flying over Iraq, Iran

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it would ban US carriers from operating in the airspace over Iraq, Iran, the Gulf of Oman and the waters between Iran and Saudi Arabia after Iran launched a missile attack on US-led forces in Iraq.

Trump unlikely to immediately make televised address: reports

US President Donald Trump is unlikely to address the US on Tuesday night local time, US media said following reports he was preparing to give a televised speech. 

What war powers does Trump have? 

Under the US Constitution, authority to direct military action is divided between Congress and the president.

Congress has the power to declare war while the president, as commander in chief, has power to use the military to defend the US.

Trump on Soleimani
Trump delivers remarks following the US Military killing against Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad, Iraq [Tom Brenner/Reuters] 

From the beginning, presidents and Congress have disputed over whether presidents have constitutional authority to send forces into hostilities abroad without congressional authorisation, according to a history of the law prepared by the Congressional Research Service.

Read more here

Iran used surface-to-surface missiles: Fars 

Iran used Fateh-313 surface-to-surface missiles to hit Ain al-Asad airbase, Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency reported.

Trump to address US 

US President Donald Trump is expected to address the US Tuesday night local time. 

Iran starts ‘second round’ of attacks against US bases in Iraq: Tasnim

Iran has started its “second round” of attacks against bases holding US troops in Iraq, the Tehran-based Tasnim news agency said on Wednesday.

The second round of attacks started an hour after the first phase took place, the agency reported.

Pelosi: America and world cannot afford war

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tweeted she was following the events in Iraq. 

“Closely monitoring the situation following bombings targeting U.S. troops in Iraq,” Pelosi said. “We must ensure the safety of our service members, including ending needless provocations from the Administration and demanding that Iran cease its violence. America & world cannot afford war.” 

Democrats were angered over US President Donald Trump decision to order the killing of Soleimani without consulting Congress. 

House Democrats are preparing to vote later this week on a War Powers Resolution aimed at limited Trump’s actions in Iran. 

Trump may address US following attacks on US forces: reports 

US media reported the White House is making plans for a possible address by US President Donald Trump following the attacks against US forces in Iraq. Al Jazeera has not independently confirmed those reports. 

iraq us bases map

Iran threatens to attack Israel and US allies

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard warned US regional allies, including Israel, that they will be attacked if their countries are used for attacks against Tehran, Iranian state media said. 

Ain al-Assad attack
This still image from an Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting video allegedly shows rockets launched from Iran against the US military base in Ein-al Asad in Iraq [Handout/IRIB/AFP]

White House: Trump briefed on attacks on US forces in Iraq 

White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said US President Donald Trump has been briefed and is monitoring the situation in Iraq. 

“We are aware of the reports of attacks on US facilities in Iraq,” Grisham tweeted. “The President has been briefed and is monitoring the situation closely and consulting with his national security team.”

Pompeo and Esper arrive the White House

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper have arrived at the White House following the attacks on US forces in Iraq.

IRGC: Rockets in revenge of Soleimani killing 

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards confirmed it fired rockets at US forces in Iraq in revenge for the killing of Soleimani. 

Iran threatens ‘more crushing responses’ if fresh US attack: State TV 

Tehran has threatened “more crushing responses” if the US retaliates for Wednesday’s rocket attack, Iranian state TV said. 

Pentagon confirms rockets fired at two Iraqi bases hosting US troops

Tehran fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles from Iranian territory against at least two Iraqi military bases hosting US-led coalition personnel, the Pentagon confirmed. 

“We are working on initial battle damage assessments,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in statement, adding that the bases targeted were at Ain al-Asad air base and another in Erbil, Iraq.

Attacks underway on multiple locations in Iraq: US official 

The US believes there have been potentially multiple attacks on locations in Iraq, including the Ain al-Asad airbase that hosts US forces, a US official told Reuters, without providing additional information.

Another U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, had confirmed to Reuters earlier that a rocket attack had taken place against Ain al-Asad airbase, but did not confirm other sites.

US official confirms airstrikes at Iraq’s Ain al-Asad air base housing US troops

US official confirms to the Associated Press news agency that airstrikes were carried out at Iraq’s Ain Asad air base housing US troops.

Iran fires rockets at Iraq base housing US troops

Iran has fired more than a dozen rockets at Iraq’s Ain al-Asad military base, which houses US troops, Iraqi sources told Al Jazeera. 

“We have had not had any reports of casualties or damage,” Al Jazeera’s Osama bin Javaid said, reporting from Baghdad. 

The rockets come less than a week after the US killing of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in Iraq.

Iran had vowed severe retaliation. 

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NATO heeds Trump’s call

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg spoke with Trump on Wednesday and agreed that the western allies should take a more prominent role in the Middle East.

“The President asked the secretary general for NATO to become more involved in the Middle East,” a NATO statement said, after the call between Washington and Brussels.

“They agreed that NATO could contribute more to regional stability and the fight against international terrorism.”

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Democrats slam Trump, Republicans defend him 

Democratic senators slammed Trump administration officials for failing to answer questions in a classified briefing in the US Capitol and said the US president made a grave error in deciding to kill Soleimani.

“This appears to me to be a strike of choice by this administration, one that likely would have required congressional authorisation beforehand,” Senator Chris Murphy told reporters.

“We did not get information in that briefing that there was a specific, imminent threat that we were halting” by striking Soleimani, Murphy said.

“The consequences of this strike already in the first six days are cataclysmic. Our troops are being pushed out of Iraq. Iran has started its nuclear weapons program again. All counter-ISIL operations have been halted. There are serious political consequences to the decision that was made,” he said.

But Republicans defended Trump’s move.

“There was a rise of tempo of attacks where it was clear the man was ready to accept crossing the red lines of killing Americans,” said Senator Roy Blunt.

“We have sent a message to Iran and our allies of the president’s willingness to follow through on something like that,” Blunt told reporters.

Iraqis denounce Iran missiles 

Iran’s missile attack on Iraqi military bases hosting US troops has raised questions over Iraq’s sovereignty and reflected Tehran’s deep-rooted influence over Baghdad.

Iraqi President Barham Salih’s office issued a statement condemnING Iran’s missile attack for taking place “on Iraqi soil”. He also denounced Tehran’s “repeated violation of Iraqi sovereignty and its transformation of Iraq into a battlefield for confrontation between belligerent parties”.

Iraq’s Speaker of Parliament Mohamed al-Halbousi issued a statement to “condemn Iran’s violation of Iraqi sovereignty and express complete rejection of transforming Iraq into a spectre for settling scores”.

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US general: Iran intended to kill US personnel

A top US military officer said Iran’s missile attack had been intended to kill US personnel as well as cause major damage at al-Asad airbase, and added it was still too early to tell if Iran would carry out additional attacks.

“I believe, based on what I saw and what I know, is that (the strikes) were intended to cause structural damage, destroy vehicles and equipment and aircraft and to kill personnel. That’s my own personal assessment,” Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters.

“But the analytics is in the hands of professional intelligence analysts. So they’re looking at that.”

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies