We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Donald Trump vowed to attack Iranian sites if the Islamic Republic strikes the US Evan Vucci/PA Images
fire and fury

Iraqi parliament passes motion to expel US military from country following Qasem Soleimani killing

Pro-Iran factions have ramped up pressure on US forces in Iraq since Friday’s drone strike.

LAST UPDATE | 5 Jan 2020

IRAQ’S PARLIAMENT HAS passed a motion urging the government to oust the US-led coalition in the country.

The motion follows the assassination of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani near Baghdad International Airport on Friday, an incident which has seen tensions escalate in the region.

Iraq also said today that it had submitted complaints to the United Nations Security Council over the drone strikes, calling on the council to condemn the killing of Soleimani.

Earlier, Donald Trump warned that the US is targeting 52 sites in Iran and can hit them “very fast and very hard” if American personnel or assets are attacked.

Trump said the figure represents the number of Americans who were held hostage at the US embassy in Tehran for more than a year from 1979.

He also said that some of the sites are “at a very high level and important to Iran and the Iranian culture” and that the US “wants no more threats”.

The president then tweeted again on Saturday night to warn Iran that the US will hit Iran “harder than they have ever been hit before”.

He followed up with another tweet, saying the US would use new military equipment “without hesitation” if the Iranians retaliated.

The threats came after pro-Iran factions ramped up pressure on US installations across Iraq with missiles and warnings to Iraqi troops, part of an outburst of anger over the killing of Soleimani, described as the second most-powerful man in Iran.

The US strike at Baghdad International Airport killed five Iranian Revolutionary Guards and five members of Iraq’s Hashed.

Among the dead was Hashed’s deputy head Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a top adviser and a personal friend to Soleimani.

As head of the Guards’ foreign operations arm, known as the Quds, Soleimani was a powerful figure domestically and oversaw Iran’s wide-ranging interventions in regional power struggles.

Trump has said Soleimani was planning an “imminent” attack on US personnel in Baghdad and should have been killed “many years ago”.

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei promised “severe revenge” for his death, while Tehran hit out at the strike as an “act of war”, with Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdisaid warning that it could bring “devastating” violence to Iraq.

With the Islamic republic promising revenge, his killing was the most dramatic escalation yet in spiraling tensions between Washington and Tehran and has prompted fears of a major conflagration in the Middle East.

First hints of retaliation

In the first hints of a possible retaliatory response, two mortar rounds hit an area near the US embassy in Baghdad on Saturday, security sources said.

Almost simultaneously, two rockets were fired into the Al-Balad airbase where American troops are deployed north of Baghdad, the same sources added.

The Iraqi military confirmed the missile attacks in Baghdad and on al-Balad but said there were no casualties. The US military also said no coalition troops were hurt.

With Americans wondering whether Iran will hit back for the assassination, the US Department of Homeland Security issued a bulletin that there was no “specific, credible threat” against the country.

But on Saturday, the website of the Federal Depository Library Program, a little-known US government agency, was breached by a group claiming to be linked to Iran, who posted graphics displaying the Iranian flag and vowed revenge for Soleimani’s death.

The attacks appeared to be precisely the reaction Iraqis had long feared: tit-for-tat strikes between the Hashed and the US on Iraqi soil.

Separately, US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said in a statement that information given to Congress by Trump prompted “serious and urgent questions about the timing, manner and justification” for Friday’s strike.

“The Trump Administration’s provocative, escalatory and disproportionate military engagement continues to put service members, diplomats and citizens of America and our allies in danger,” she said.

- © AFP 2019

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel