US-Iran tensions after Soleimani killing: All the latest updates

Iran starts burial in a cemetery in his hometown of Kerman after a delay prompted by a stampede in the city.

Coffins of Gen. Qassem Soleimani and others who were killed in Iraq by a U.S. drone strike, are carried on a truck surrounded by mourners during a funeral procession, in the city of Kerman, Iran, Tues

Dozens of people have been killed in the Iranian city of Kerman during the funeral procession for Qassem Soleimani, a top Iranian military commander who was assassinated last week in an air strike in Baghdad by the United States

The assassination of Soleimani triggered a dramatic escalation of tensions in the region and marked the most significant confrontation between the United States and Iran in recent years.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei warned that “a harsh retaliation is waiting”, while US President Donald Trump threatened to hit 52 Iranian sites “very hard” if Tehran attacked US citizens or assets.

Here are the latest updates:

Tuesday, January 7

Iraq PM says received signed US ‘withdrawal’ letter

Iraq’s premier Adel Abdul Mahdi confirmed he received what the US said was a draft letter describing steps its military would take to “move out” of Iraq.

The Pentagon had said an unsigned draft version of the letter had been mistakenly sent, but the Iraqi premier disputed that claim.

In a cabinet meeting televised on Tuesday evening, Abdul Mahdi said he had received signed and translated copies at 8:00pm local time (1700 GMT) Monday. 

Death toll reaches 56 in Kerman stampede

A stampede that broke out at the funeral processions for top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a US airstrike, reached 56, according to Iranian state TV.

More than 200 others were injured as thousands thronged the procession.

Earlier, the head of the country’s emergency services, Pirhossein Koolivand, told state television that “32 of our citizens lost their lives in the procession … and 190 were injured” due to “overcrowding”.

Iran starts Soleimani’s burial

Iran started the burial of Soleimani in a cemetery in his hometown of Kerman on Tuesday, ISNA news agency reported, after a delay prompted by a stampede in the city where tens of thousands of mourners had gathered earlier in the day.

“A few minutes ago his body was transferred to the martyrs section of Kerman cemetery,” the agency reported, saying the burial was starting.

UK will leave Iraq if Baghdad asks us to go, says defence minister

Britain wants to keep its troops in Iraq but will pull out if Baghdad so demands, its defence minister, Ben Wallace has said.

“We are … trying to get them to say that it’s in your best interest for us to remain,” Wallace told parliament. “(But) we will respect Iraqi sovereignty. If they require us to leave, that is their right and we will respect it.”

Iraq’s Parliament called on Sunday for US and other foreign troops to leave after the killing of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in a US drone strike at Baghdad airport.

NATO moving some personnel out of Iraq

NATO is moving some of its trainers out of Iraq, a NATO official said, following fears of a regional conflict in the wake of a US drone strike on Iran’s top military commander last week.

“We are taking all precautions necessary to protect our people. This includes the temporary repositioning of some personnel to different locations both inside and outside of Iraq,” a NATO official told Reuters.

The NATO Iraq mission, made up of several hundred trainers, advisers and support staff from both countries of the 29-member alliance and non-NATO partner countries, includes military and civilian personnel.

France not planning to cut troop numbers in Iraq

France has no plans to cut its troop numbers from Iraq for the moment following the killing of a top Iranian military commander that has exacerbated tensions in the region, a French government source has said.

The source added that security around French troops would be reinforced.

France provides training and logistical support to Iraqi and Kurdish forces as part of anti-Islamic State (ISIL or ISIS) coalition in the country.

Soleimani was not in Baghdad on a diplomatic mission, says Pompeo

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday said Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani was not in Baghdad pursuing a peaceful diplomatic mission when the United States killed him in a drone attack last week.

“Is there any history that would indicate that it was remotely possible that this kind gentleman, this diplomat of great order – Qassem Soleimani – had travelled to Baghdad for the idea of conducting a peace mission?” Pompeo told reporters.

“We know that wasn’t true.”

Muhandis’s body arrives in Iraq

The body of deputy leader of Iraq’s Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation Forces or PMF) Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who was also killed in a United States airstrike near Baghdad airport, has arrived from Tehran for burial at the holy city of Najaf. 

“The DNA testing was completed in Iran successfully, allowing for Muhandis’s body to be separated from the body of Soleimani. His body was returned to Iraq this morning,” a PMF media representative told Al Jazeera. 

Protest in New Delhi against Soleimani’s killing

Dozens of people took part in a march protesting against the killing of Soleimani in New Delhi. 

The protesters, including women and children, carrying placards and pictures of Soleimani and Iran’s supreme leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei marched from Nehru Memorial Museum & Library towards the US embassy in Chanakyapuri – a diplomatic enclave in the Indian capital.

The placards read: “Trump is a war criminal”, “Trump, you Israeli puppet” and “Trump you an embarrassment to humanity”.

“We want to give this message that we are against the tyranny and oppression,” Maulana Qasim Zaidi, a religious leader of the Shia community in New Delhi, told Al Jazeera.

Protest Delhi
Dozens of people took part in a march protesting against the killing of Soleimani in New Delhi [Bilal Kuchay/Al Jazeera]

Croatia moves troops from Iraq to Kuwait

Croatia’s defence ministry said the country’s 14 troops in Iraq have been moved to Kuwait amid soaring tensions.

The statement said any future steps also will be made in consultation with NATO allies.

A growing number of European countries are shifting troops out of Iraq.

Zarif: ‘Days of the US in this region are numbered’

In an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera’s Dorsa Jabbari, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said “the days of the US in this region are numbered”.

He reiterated his country’s stance that it will retaliate against the US, describing the assassination of Soleimani as “an act of war combined with an act of terrorism”.

“We are bound to protect our citizens and our military officials. It was an act that has to be reciprocated by Iran. We will make the necessary deliberations and it will be an act that we will do, not in a hurry, not in a hasty manner,” Zarif said in Tehran.

Read more here.

Al Jazeera’s exclusive interview with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif

40 killed, 213 injured in stampede: Iran state TV

At least 40 people were killed and 213 others were injured in a stampede that erupted at the funeral procession for Soleimani in Kerman, the semi-official Fars news agency reported, citing an emergency services official.

Initial videos posted online showed people lying lifeless on a road, others shouting and trying to help them.

Read more here.

US expected to deploy six bombers for possible operations: Report

According to a US official, the Pentagon is planning to deploy six B-52 aircraft to the British territory of Diego Garcia in the Indian ocean on Monday, CNN reported.

The B-52s will be available for operations against Iran if ordered, the official said.

Iran ‘ready to come back to full compliance’ in nuclear deal

Iran is “ready to come back to full compliance” with its nuclear deal with world powers, deputy foreign minister Abbas Araqchi said at a regional dialogue forum in Tehran.

Iran had announced on Sunday it would abandon limitations on enriching uranium, taking a further step back from commitments to a 2015 nuclear deal.

However, Araqchi said, “this does not mean that the deal has ended or Iran wants to withdraw from it,” the official IRNA news agency reported.

“It just means that we’ve reached a reasonable balance in the JCPOA,” he added, using the official name of the deal.

Araqchi said Iran could remain in the deal “if the other party remains committed to its conditions”.

Iran considering 13 ‘revenge scenarios’ after US strike: Report

Iran has been considering 13 “revenge scenarios,” Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council said, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.

“The Americans should know that until now 13 revenge scenarios have been discussed in the council and even if there is consensus on the weakest scenario, carrying it out can be a historic nightmare for the Americans,” Shamkhani said.

Germany to withdraw some troops from Iraq

Germany will withdraw some of its troops deployed as part of the anti-ISIL (ISIS) group coalition in Iraq, the defence ministry said.

About 30 soldiers stationed in Baghdad and Taji will be moved to Jordan and Kuwait, a defence ministry spokesman told AFP, adding that the withdrawal will “begin shortly”.

Germany has deployed about 415 soldiers as part of the anti-ISIL coalition, with about 120 of its troops stationed in Iraq.

Germany’s move came after the Iraqi parliament passed a resolution asking the government to end its agreement with the US-led coalition.  

Iran FM says US declined him a visa to attend UN meeting

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the US had declined to issue him a visa to attend United Nations meetings in New York.

The US, as the host of the UN headquarters, is supposed to allow foreign officials to attend such meetings.

“They fear that someone comes to the US and reveals realities,” Zarif said, speaking in Tehran.

“The world is not limited to New York and you can talk to the American people from Tehran and we will do that.”

Iran designates all US forces ‘terrorists’

Iran’s Parliament passed a bill designating all US forces “terrorists”.

Under the newly adopted bill, all US forces and employees of the Pentagon and affiliated organisations, agents and commanders and those who ordered the “martyrdom” of Soleimani were designated as “terrorists”.

“Any aid to these forces, including military, intelligence, financial, technical, service or logistical, will be considered as cooperation in a terrorist act,” the parliament said.

Al Jazeera’s Assed Baig, reporting from Tehran, said that the bill was an amendment to a previous motion passed last year in April which designated the US Central Command as a “terrorist organisation,” Baig said.

Baig said legislators also voted for 200 million euros to be allocated to the Quds force “to boost their defensive power”.

Iran’s FM Zarif: ‘End to US presence in the Middle East has begun

Removing US from region will end ‘wars and death’: Zarif

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Trump committed a “stupid mistake by assassinating the greatest commander who stood in the face of terrorism” in the region.

Speaking in Tehran, he accused the US of basing its decisions on “miscalculations” and “misinterpretations” of the region, the outcome of which are deeply affecting the Middle East.

“Our region, because of the US’s intervention … has become victim to the endless war,” Zarif said.

“This pattern needs to be broken … These ongoing wars in the region have provided a nesting-ground for criminals,” he said.

“Removing the US from Western Asia is what will … end wars and death in this region.”

Iran Guard leader threatens to ‘set ablaze’ US-backed places

Hossein Salami, leader of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, made a pledge before the crowd in a central square in Kerman to “set ablaze” places supported by the US.

His pledge mirrored the demands of top Iranian officials as well as mourners across Iran, demanding retaliation against the US.

Salami praised Soleimani’s exploits and said as a martyr, he represented an even greater threat to Iran’s enemies.

“We will take revenge. We will ablaze where they like,” Salami said, drawing the cries of “Death to Israel!” from the crowd.

Israel is a longtime regional foe of Iran.

Soleimani’s remains arrive in Kerman for burial

Soleimani’s remains arrived back in the southeastern city of Kerman, the official IRNA news agency said on Tuesday.

State TV showed live images of thousands of people on the streets, many of them dressed in black.

Read more here.

Saudi deputy defence minister met Esper, discussed ongoing military cooperation 

Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Defence Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman, said in a tweet on Tuesday he met the US secretary of defence, Mark Esper, and discussed mutual challenges faced by both countries.

Earlier he met US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Iraq calls on UN to condemn US raid that killed Soleimani

Iraq’s United Nations Ambassador Mohammed Hussein Bahr Aluloom called on the United Nations Security Council to condemn the US raid that killed Soleimani and the PMF leader.

He urged the council in a letter on Monday to hold accountable “those who have committed such violations”.

Bahr Aluloom also called on the Security Council to ensure “that Iraq is not dragged into international and regional crises,” and to prevent “the law of the jungle” from prevailing.

The US is almost certain to veto any Security Council action sought by Iraq against the Trump administration.

Read earlier updates here.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies