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U.S. Marines with 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, assigned to the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Central Command (SPMAGTF-CR-CC) 19.2, reinforce the U.S. Embassy Compound in Baghdad, Iraq, January 2, 2020. Picture taken January 2, 2020.  - Sputnik International

Live Updates: US is ‘Poised and Ready’ as Iran Vows to Follow Soleimani’s Path

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump downgraded World War 3 fears via a televised address to the nation following Iranian ballistic missile attacks on US forces stationed at military bases in Iraq.

Tensions between the US and Iran spiked after Tehran targeted the American military at the Ayn al-Asad Air Base and a facility in Erbil in Iraq on 7 January in response to the assassination of the IRGC Quds Force Commander Qasem Soleimani in a US drone strike.

A day after the attack the US president made no mention of an imminent military response to Iran’s missile strikes, pledging a fresh wave of sanctions instead and offering a diplomatic option to defuse regional tensions in his highly-anticipated address.

US Secretary of Defence Marc Esper, however, said that the US military remains "poised and ready" for any threat in light of any crises in relations between the two countries.

Commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Abdollah Araghi, for his part, said that the conflict is not over and promised an even "harsher revenge". His statement was preceded by the new chief of the al-Quds forces, who said that the elite Iranian forces will follow the path chosen by late commander Qasem Soleimani.

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18:14 GMT 09.01.2020

Moscow calls on parties to swiftly de-escalate tensions in the Persian Gulf to avoid a military confrontation with unpredictable consequences, Russian Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia told the Security Council on Thursday.

"As a result of the increasing confrontation, the [Gulf] region, and indeed the whole world is on the brink of conflict, the consequences of which should be unpredictable. We call for speedy de-escalation. The risk of conflict is too high, and the price is too high," Nebenzia said.

Nebenzia also expressed his concern over some countries tending to take unilateral actions and violate international law.

"The quintessence of all of these lamentable tendencies was the withdrawal of the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iranian nuclear program, as approved by the Security Council," the diplomat added.

14:56 GMT 09.01.2020

Iran’s ballistic missiles attack targeting two military bases in Iraq that house US and coalition forces was intended to kill Americans, Vice President Mike Pence said in an interview on Thursday.

"The ballistic missiles fired at American bases at Al Asad and Erbil, we believe were intended to kill Americans. We have intelligence to support that that was the intention of the Iranians," Pence told NBC News.

Pence credited the safety of US and coalition forces, which emerged from the attack unscathed, to "the excellent work of our military personnel on the ground … and our intelligence."

13:52 GMT 09.01.2020

Beijing calls upon the United States and Iran to settle existing disagreements between themselves via dialogue and negotiations, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Thursday, commenting on US President Donald Trump's intention to introduce economic sanctions against Iran.

"China consistently advocates for settling international issues on the basis of the UN Charter and the fundamental principles of international relations. It is necessary to solve mutual disagreements through dialogue, talks and other peaceful means," the spokesman said at a briefing

The spokesman also called on the parties to adhere to the political settlement of problems and to take real steps to de-escalate tensions in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf.

13:51 GMT 09.01.2020

Hungarian troops in Iraq will stay put unless the Middle Eastern nation’s government scraps their bilateral deal, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Thursday.

"As long as the Iraqi government does not cancel the agreement, Hungarian soldiers will be in Iraq. If the Iraqi government were to end the agreement then we would withdraw," Orban was cited as saying by the cabinet's communication chief.

The Hungarian parliament allows up to 200 soldiers to be kept in Iraq as part of the commitment to the coalition. Many of them are stationed at the Erbil base, which was attacked by Iranian ballistic missiles on Wednesday.

11:30 GMT 09.01.2020
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