Iraq asks foreign troops to leave; Iranians pay homage to Soleimani
January 05 2020 06:04 PM
Members of the Iraqi parliament are seen at the parliament in Baghdad
Members of the Iraqi parliament are seen at the parliament in Baghdad

Reuters/AFP Baghdad/Tehran

Iraq's parliament called Sunday for US and other foreign military forces to leave amid a growing backlash against the US killing of a top Iranian military commander that has heightened fears of a wider Middle East conflict.
In a war of words between Iran and the United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington would target any Iranian decision-makers it chose if there were further attacks on US interests by Iranian forces or their proxies.
Qassem Soleimani was killed on Friday in a US drone strike on his convoy at Baghdad airport, an attack that took US-Iranian hostilities into uncharted waters and stoked concern about a major conflagration.
The Iraqi parliament passed a resolution calling for an end to all foreign troop presence. "The Iraqi government must work to end the presence of any foreign troops on Iraqi soil and prohibit them from using its land, air space or water for any reason," it said.
There was no immediate comment on the Iraqi move from the US State Department or Pentagon.
Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis was also killed in Friday's strike.
Some 5,000 US troops remain in Iraq, most in an advisory role.
Earlier Sunday, Iran lambasted Donald Trump after the US president threatened to hit 52 Iranian sites hard if Tehran attacks Americans or US assets in retaliation for Soleimani's death.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei promised on Friday that Iran would seek harsh revenge for Soleimani's death.
Hundreds of thousands of mourners, many chanting, beating their chests and wailing in grief, turned out across Iran to show their respects after Soleimani's body was returned home to a hero's welcome.
Black-clad mourners packed Iran's second city Mashhad as the remains of General Soleimani were paraded through the streets.
"Iran's wearing black, revenge, revenge," they chanted as darkness fell and they followed a truck carrying Soleimani's coffin towards the floodlit Imam Reza shrine.
The mourners threw scarves onto the roof of the truck so that they could be blessed by the "blood of the martyr".
Soleimani's remains had been returned before dawn to the southwestern city of Ahvaz, where the air resonated with Shiite chants and shouts of "Death to America" during a procession.
People held aloft portraits of Soleimani, one of the country's most popular public figures who is seen as a hero of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war.
Heightened fears of war drove Gulf stocks sharply lower Sunday.
Trump tweeted on Saturday that Iran "is talking very boldly about targeting certain USA assets".
He said the United States has "targeted 52 Iranian sites", some "at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD".
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell urged Iran's foreign minister by phone to work to de-escalate the situation and invited him to Brussels to discuss ways of preserving world powers' 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.

US army will pay the price: Nasrallah

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah Sunday said the US army will "pay the price" for killing top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani and a senior Iraqi commander in a drone strike.
"The American army killed them and it will pay the price," the Iran-backed head of the Lebanese Shiite group warned in a televised speech in Beirut.
"The only just punishment is (to target) American military presence in the region: US military bases, US warships, each and every officer and soldier in the region," Nasrallah said.
He added however that American civilians such as "businessmen, engineers, journalists and doctors" should be spared.

'Iran's retaliation to include Haifa'

A former chief of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards said Sunday the Israeli city of Haifa and Israeli military centres would be included in Tehran's retaliation over the killing of Soleimani.
"Iran's revenge against America for the assassination of Soleimani will be severe... Haifa and Israeli military centres will be included in the retaliation," Mohsen Rezaei said in a televised speech to a gathering of mourners in Tehran.

Last updated: January 05 2020 11:06 PM

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