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Iranian soldiers gather in Tehran to mourn General Qassem Soleimani, head of the elite Quds Force, who was killed in a drone strike on a convoy near Baghdad International Airport, 4 January 2020 - Sputnik International

Live Updates: Iran Army Commander Says US Lacks Courage to Strike the 52 Targets Trump Spoke About

The body of Iranian Quds Force General Qasem Soleimani arrived on Sunday in Iran where thousands of mourners thronged his coffin ahead of a grand funeral procession across Iran.

In the early hours of Friday morning, Soleimani and al-Muhandis, along with 10 others, were killed in a US drone attack near Baghdad International Airport.

US President Donald Trump said Washington took preemptive action against Soleimani to "stop a war". Iranian leaders, however, have vowed to take revenge for Soleimani’s assassination.

Trump previously stated that the US had identified 52 Iranian sites, including some that are "important" to Iran, that would be attacked "very fast and very hard" if Tehran struck any US citizens or assets.

In turn, the commander of the Iranian Armed Forces' Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami, has threatened to end the US presence in the Middle East in the wake of the recent US operation in Iraq that killed Qasem Soleimani.

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17:43 GMT 05.01.2020

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his Afghan counterpart Ashraf Ghani held a phone call on Sunday to discuss the US military operation that killed Qasem Soleimani, the head of Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) elite Quds Force, a press release on Rouhani's official website stated.

The Afghan president expressed his condolences over the death of Soleimani, and stressed that his government will strive to promote peace in the region.

"Iran's security is our security and the efforts of the Afghan government and nation will be to promote peace, stability and brotherhood,” Ghani stated.

Iranian President Rouhani also expressed his wishes for peace and stability in Afghanistan and also stated that Iran was not an aggressor in the region.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran has never initiated any act of aggression or even tension with the United States, and Iran's actions have always been a response to the American aggression,” Rouhani said during the conversation.

17:34 GMT 05.01.2020

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had phone conversations with his counterparts from Saudi Arabia, Iran, UAE and Turkey on Sunday.

According to the ministry's statement, there was a wide-ranging exchange of views on the unfolding situation in the region.

Highlighting Pakistan’s deep concern over the recent developments, the Foreign Minister underscored the imperative of avoidance of conflict, the exercise of maximum restraint, and de-escalation of tensions.

He renewed the call on all parties concerned to abide by the UN Charter and principles of international law to settle differences through peaceful means.

The Foreign Minister also reaffirmed that Pakistan would neither let its soil be used against any other state nor become part of any regional conflict.

Sharing Pakistan’s perspective, the Foreign Minister expressed the hope that the progress made in the Afghan peace process would be preserved and further advanced.

The Foreign Minister reiterated Pakistan’s readiness to continue to play a role in preventing further escalation and maintaining regional peace and stability.

17:30 GMT 05.01.2020
17:22 GMT 05.01.2020
17:14 GMT 05.01.2020
16:53 GMT 05.01.2020
16:46 GMT 05.01.2020

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has convened an emergency meeting of the alliance for Monday 3 pm Brussels time, Austrian newspaper Standard has reported.

The agenda of the meeting will focus on the situation in Iraq following the killing of Iran's top military commander Qasem Soleimani.  

16:31 GMT 05.01.2020

The Israeli cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa can be targeted to avenge Major General Soleimani, who was killed by a US drone strike in Baghdad on Friday, the former leader of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, Mohsen Rezaee, said in Tehran on Sunday during a ceremony to honour the slain military commander, Associated Press reports.  

15:25 GMT 05.01.2020

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has denied that President Trump said he would target Iranian cultural sites if Tehran retaliates against the killing of military commander Qasem Soleimani.

"President Trump didn't say he'd go after a cultural site - read what he said," Pompeo said on Fox News.

On Saturday, Trump warned that the US would target 52 Iranian sites, including some that were important to Iranian culture, in case Tehran retaliates. 

Persian soldiers allegedly used cats and other sacred Egyptian animals against the Pharaoh's army in an early example of psychological warfare during the Battle of Pelusium between the Achaemenid Empire and Ancient Egypt in 525 BC. Painting by French painter Paul Marie Lenoir, 1872. - Sputnik International
Iran's Foreign Minister Compares Trump to Ancient ‘Barbarians’ Over Threat to Target Cultural Sites
14:28 GMT 05.01.2020

Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr said that a security agreement with the US must be cancelled and its embassy in the country closed, Reuters reported, citing the cleric's letter.  

13:55 GMT 05.01.2020
13:48 GMT 05.01.2020
13:41 GMT 05.01.2020
13:39 GMT 05.01.2020
13:34 GMT 05.01.2020
13:25 GMT 05.01.2020
13:23 GMT 05.01.2020

Iranian MP has threatened to attack the White House in response to Donald Trump's warning.

"We can attack the White House itself, we can respond to them on the American soil. We have the power, and God willing we will respond in an appropriate time," Iranian MP Abolfazl Abutorabi said as quoted by the Daily Mail.

13:03 GMT 05.01.2020
13:00 GMT 05.01.2020

New Delhi has urged Indian airlines to avoid Iranian airspace if possible amid the escalation of tensions between Washington and Tehran following a US drone attack that killed Qasem Soleimani, the head of Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) elite Quds Force, Indian media reported on Sunday.

According to the Economic Times newspaper, the Indian government asked airlines to change the routes of their flights to and from Europe and the US, which almost exclusively use Iranian airspace.

The newspaper cited an unnamed source inside India’s flag carrier, Air India, who said that despite the advisory, there are no current plans to change flight routes at present.

A similar advisory was issued by the Indian government in the wake of Iran’s downing of a US military drone in the Strait of Hormuz in June. At that time, the advisory was limited only to the oversea areas of Iranian airspace in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.

12:44 GMT 05.01.2020
12:39 GMT 05.01.2020

"The British minister affirmed during the call the importance of the region and world steering clear from the dangers of war and avoiding its consequences as well as the importance of working on de-escalation and turning to dialogue to get out of this dangerous crisis," Iraqi Prime Minister office said in a statement.

12:10 GMT 05.01.2020
11:53 GMT 05.01.2020
11:05 GMT 05.01.2020

Iran has appealed to the UN Security Council over the assassination of Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force Commander Qasem Soleimani in the US airstrike in Iraq, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said on Sunday.

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already initiated political, legal and international measures, including at the level of the UN and the Security Council," Mousavi said at a briefing.

10:59 GMT 05.01.2020
10:39 GMT 05.01.2020
10:39 GMT 05.01.2020

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell invited Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to Brussels and expressed his concerns over the assassination of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force Commander Qasem Soleimani, the European Union said in a press release.

“Josep Borrell invited the Iranian Foreign Minister to Brussels to continue their engagement on these matters,” the press release said.

According to the press release, Borell “expressed his deep concern about the latest increase of violent confrontations in Iraq, including the killing of General Qassem Soleimani.”

10:38 GMT 05.01.2020
10:20 GMT 05.01.2020

The Iranian Foreign Ministry on Sunday summoned Markus Leitner, the Swiss ambassador to Tehran, whose country represents the United States’ interests in Iran, over recent threats from US President Donald Trump to strike Iranian sites.

09:53 GMT 05.01.2020
08:56 GMT 05.01.2020
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