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The Trump Way — Blood Oath — American People Want This Deal — The Chicago Way Not To Be Confused With Appeaser Obama’s Red Line Way — Videos

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The Trump Way — Blood Oath — American People Want This Deal — The Chicago Way Not To Be Confused With Appeaser Obama’s Red Line Way — Videos

See the source imageSee the source imageSee the source image

See the source imageSee the source imageSee the source imageSee the source imagePresident Donald Trump delivered a high-stakes address to the world on Wednesday, offering Iran peace if it abandons its nuclear ambitions but also threatening the use of hypersonic weapons if war follows

 

Trump responds to Iranian airstrike: Iran will never have a nuclear weapon

Special Report: Trump addresses Iran attack on U.S. bases in Iraq

Rep. Dan Crenshaw says Obama-era officials are obsessed with defending their appeasement of Iran

Tucker Carlson Tonight 1/8/20 | Fox News Today January 8, 2020

Sen. Ted Cruz on Sen. Mike Lee’s public frustration with intel briefing on Soleimani strike

Petraeus says U.S. had “lost the element of deterrence” before Soleimani strike

Iran strikes back at US with missile attack at bases in Iraq

Iran Strikes Back at U.S.With Missile Attack on Bases in Iraq | News 4 Now

Shields and Brooks on Iran general’s killing, 2020 Democrats’ fundraising

Trump says Iran will be hit ‘very fast’ if they strike American assets

See the source image

The Chicago Way – The Untouchables (2/10) Movie CLIP

(1987) HD

A Clip From The Blind Side

The Blind Side

 

Donald Trump blames Barack Obama for giving Iran the cash to buy missiles flung at U.S. bases-as he offers to ’embrace peace’ and claims Tehran is ‘standing down’ but warns of ‘hypersonic weapons’ and ‘lethal and fast’ attacks

  • President said Iran can choose peace but warned of new weaponry that’s ready to strike
  • He blamed the Obama administration for unfreezing $150 billion and delivering $1.5 billion in cash to jump-start a nuclear nonproliferation deal that has since fallen apart
  • ‘As long as I am president of the United States, Iran will never be be allowed have a nuclear weapon,’ he vowed, even before saying ‘Good morning’
  • ‘Our missiles are big, powerful, accurate, lethal and fast,’ he said, sending a warning in nearly the same breath as an olive branch
  • ‘Under construction are many hypersonic missiles,’ he warned, standing amid a tableau of stern-faced military leaders
  • Iran fired 22 ballistic missiles at two Iraqi bases housing American troops early Wednesday local time
  • Strikes are not thought to have killed any U.S. or Iraqi personnel, though extent of damage is being assessed
  • Ayatollah Khamenei said U.S. was given a ‘slap’ but strikes alone are ‘not enough’ and wants troops kicked out 
  • There are still fears for U.S. troops after Iran-backed militias in Iraq threatened to carry out their own strikes

Donald Trump blamed Barack Obama on Wednesday for supplying Iran with the money to purchase a torrent of missiles fired at American military positions Tuesday night.

‘The missiles fired last night at us and our allies were paid for with the funds made available by the last administration,’ he said, citing $150 billion in frozen assets that the previous president released and $1.5 billion flown by the U.S. to Tehran.

He began his speech to the world on Wednesday with a familiar ultimatum, even before saying ‘Good morning.’

‘As long as I am president of the United States, Iran will never be be allowed have a nuclear weapon,’ he said.

And Trump backed up that vow with a threat:

‘Our missiles are big, powerful, accurate, lethal and fast,’ he said, sending a warning in nearly the same breath as an olive branch.

‘Under construction are many hypersonic missiles,’ he warned, standing amid a tableau of stern-faced military leaders.

Minutes later he offered an olive branch, urging European nations to make ‘a deal with Iran that makes the world a safer and more peaceful place’ and allows Iran to explore its ‘untapped potential’ as a mainstream trading partner.

‘We want you to have a future, and a great future,’ he told Iran’s people, claiming its military ‘appears to be standing down.’

President Donald Trump delivered a high-stakes address to the world on Wednesday, offering Iran peace if it abandons its nuclear ambitions but also threatening the use of hypersonic weapons if war follows

President Donald Trump delivered a high-stakes address to the world on Wednesday, offering Iran peace if it abandons its nuclear ambitions but also threatening the use of hypersonic weapons if war follows

Talking peace and war: Donald Trump offered to 'embrace peace' with Iran if it gives up its nuclear ambitions and its terrorism - but listed U.S. military capabilities

Talking peace and war: Donald Trump offered to ’embrace peace’ with Iran if it gives up its nuclear ambitions and its terrorism – but listed U.S. military capabilities

The president spoke in the Grand Foyer of the White House, speaking with the aid of a teleprompter in measured tones

The president spoke in the Grand Foyer of the White House, speaking with the aid of a teleprompter in measured tones

Trump's made-for-TV tableau included Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and Vice President Mike Pence

Trump’s made-for-TV tableau included Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and Vice President Mike Pence

Tightly-scripted: Donald Trump stuck to the teleprompter version of his address to the nation about Iran

Tightly-scripted: Donald Trump stuck to the teleprompter version of his address to the nation about Iran

No questions: Donald Trump left without taking any questions from reporters who had been brought into the room before his speech

No questions: Donald Trump left without taking any questions from reporters who had been brought into the room before his speech

Television entrance: Donald Trump enters to address the nation in the aftermath of missile strikes by Iran on a U.S. base in Iraq

Television entrance: Donald Trump enters to address the nation in the aftermath of missile strikes by Iran on a U.S. base in Iraq

The president's audience-of-one was Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the iron-fisted theocrat who is the mortal enemy of Israel and the United States

The president’s audience-of-one was Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the iron-fisted theocrat who is the mortal enemy of Israel and the United States

His remarks, watched live around the world, came after Tehran’s armies rained missiles down on Iraqi military installations where American troops have been stationed for more than 16 years.

‘No Americans were harmed in last night’s attack by the Iranian regime,’ the president said. ‘We suffered no casualties.’

Iranian state-run television claimed at least 20 U.S. servicemen and women were killed.

U.S. officials believe the missiles were deliberately fired into unpopulated areas, in what a senior official called a ‘heads-up bombing.’

The president spoke with the aid of tele-prompters in the Grand Foyer, the main entrance hall in the front of the White House.

He blasted Tehran’s ‘destructive and destabilizing behavior’ and said the days of Western patience ‘are over.’

Trump has long seen himself as a maverick loner on the world stage, unpredictable and unbothered by ruffling feathers overseas.

He boasts that his low approval ratings in foreign countries are an indication that he is focused on Americans’ welfare—not the priorities of real and nominal allies.

That approach could be tested as Iran and the U.S. creep toward what some, but not all, in the national security establishment see as an inevitable war.

The White House isn’t expecting one, the senior official said Wednesday: ‘This doesn’t have to end badly, and frankly right now we might be in the best position ever for diplomacy with Tehran.’

As he has in the past, the president trashed the Iran nuclear deal negotiated during the Obama administration along with Tehran and six other powers. He called the deal, which the administration already backed away from, ‘very defective’ noting that it ‘expires anyway.’

He called on other negotiating parties, including Great Britain, France, Germany, and Russia – to ‘break away from the remnants of the Iran deal.

At the same time, Trump did not completely foreclose negotiation. He called for a ‘deal with Iran that makes the world a more peaceful and safer place.’

Trump, who spoke to reporters but had yet to speak directly to the nation since ordering the killing of Soleimani, called the Iranian general ‘the world’s top terrorist,’ and said he was ‘personally responsible for some of the absolutely worst atrocities.’

‘Soleimani’s hands were drenched in both American and Iranian blood,’ Trump said. ‘He should have been terminated long ago. By removing Soleimani, we have sent a powerful message to terrorists: If you value your own life, you will not threaten the lives of our people,’ he added.

Trump announced that the U.S. would impose ‘powerful’ sanctions on the already heavily-sanctioned Iranian regime. But the White House did not immediately provide specifics. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was seen exiting the meeting Trump had with top military and security advisors moments before the speech.

‘The United States will immediately impose additional punishing economic sanctions on the Iranian regime. These powerful sanctions will remain until Iran changes its behavior,’ Trump said.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps fired on the Ain al-Asad airbase in western Iraq and Erbil International airport in the north in the early hours of Wednesday, but failed to kill a single US or Iraqi solider.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, speaking on Iranian TV shortly after the missiles were launched, described the strikes as ‘a slap’ and said they ‘are not sufficient (for revenge)’ while vowing further action to kick US troops out of the region.

But foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the attack was now ‘concluded,’ praising Iran’s ‘proportionate’ response and adding: ‘We do not seek escalation or war.’

Trump tweeted late Tuesday to say ‘so far so good’ as American forces assessed the damage and casualties.

Iranian television had tried to claim that 80 ‘American terrorists’ were killed, but that figure was quickly rubbished by Iraqi and US officials.

Images showed several missiles had either failed to explode on impact or else missed their targets.  The remains of one was found near the town of Duhok, some 70 miles from Erbil air base, which was the intended target.

Tehran fired an ineffective missile strike at U.S. forces at Iraqi airb

Tehran fired an ineffective missile strike at U.S. forces at Iraqi air bases after promising brutal revenge for Trump’s drone strike that killed General Qassem Soleimani (pictured), the architect of terror attacks that have killed hundreds of American servicemen and women

Iran has fired 22 ballistic missiles at two Iraqi bases housing American troops in a revenge attack for the U.S. drone strike that killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani

Iran has fired 22 ballistic missiles at two Iraqi bases housing American troops in a revenge attack for the U.S. drone strike that killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani

The rockets hit Ain Asad (pictured) which houses US and coalition troops

The rockets hit Ain Asad (pictured) which houses US and coalition troops

The Ain al-Asad airbase in western Iraq that was visited by Donald Trump in December 2018 and the Erbil base in Iraqi Kurdistan were both struck by the missiles on Tuesday at about 5.20pm EST (1.20am local time)

It is thought Iran used Fatteh-110 and Qaim-1 ballistic missiles during the attack, which failed to kill any US or Iraqi troops (pictured, one of the missiles is launched in Iran)

It is thought Iran used Fatteh-110 and Qaim-1 ballistic missiles during the attack, which failed to kill any US or Iraqi troops (pictured, one of the missiles is launched in Iran)

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

Qais al-Khazali

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (left) said the attack it is ‘not enough’ for revenge against the US, before Iraqi militia commander Qais al-Khazali (right) vowed to exact his own revenge for the killing of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis

Iraqi security forces clear away pieces of shrapnel from the Ain al-Asad airbase after it was struck by ballistic missiles fired by Iran as part of operation 'Martyr Soleimani'+

Iraqi security forces clear away pieces of shrapnel from the Ain al-Asad airbase after it was struck by ballistic missiles fired by Iran as part of operation ‘Martyr Soleimani’

Initial reports indicate at least 15 missiles were fired at two American bases in Iraq, though officials said early warning systems sounded alarms at the Ain al-Asad base (pictured) allowing troops to scramble for cover+49

Initial reports indicate at least 15 missiles were fired at two American bases in Iraq, though officials said early warning systems sounded alarms at the Ain al-Asad base (pictured) allowing troops to scramble for cover

A man holds shrapnel from a missile launched by Iran on U.S.-led coalition forces on the outskirts of Duhok, in northern Iraq 70 miles from Erbil, following Iranian missile strikes

A man holds shrapnel from a missile launched by Iran on U.S.-led coalition forces on the outskirts of Duhok, in northern Iraq 70 miles from Erbil, following Iranian missile strikes

Wreckage of a missile that was fired at Ain al-Asad military base in western Iraq but failed to explode on impact

Wreckage of a missile that was fired at Ain al-Asad military base in western Iraq but failed to explode on impact

US officials said early warning systems sounded alarms at the Ain al-Asad base, allowing troops to scramble for cover

US officials said early warning systems sounded alarms at the Ain al-Asad base, allowing troops to scramble for cover

Wreckage of an Iranian missile near Ain al-Asad

Wreckage of an Iranian missile near Ain al-Asad

Iraq said 17 missiles were fired at the Ain al-Asad base, two of which failed to explode (pictured, unexploded wreckage)

In an attempt to talk-up the impact of the strikes, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said they show ‘we don’t retreat in the face of America.’

‘If America has committed a crime… it should know that it will receive a decisive response,’ Rouhani said in a televised address. ‘If they are wise, they won’t take any other action at this juncture.’

It is thought Iran gave advanced warning of the strikes, after Iraq, Finland and Lithuania – which all had troops stationed at the bases which were targeted – all said they were informed in advance.

America said that ‘early warning systems’ detected the missile launches and sirens were sounded at the Asad base, allowing soldiers to seek shelter. It is not clear whether they were also informed by Iran.

Prominent analysts suggested Iran may have deliberately pulled its punches because they are fearful of the ‘disproportionate’ response threatened by Trump if US personnel were killed.

‘With the attacks, Tehran signalled its capacity and readiness to respond to US attacks, thus saving face, and yet they have been well targeted to avoid fatalities and thus avoid provoking Trump’s reaction,’ said Annalisa Perteghella of the Institute for International Political Studies in Milan.

President Donald Trump says 'all is well' and 'so far so good' as the damage and casualties continue to be assessed after Iran fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two Iraqi bases housing American troops

President Donald Trump says ‘all is well’ and ‘so far so good’ as the damage and casualties continue to be assessed after Iran fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two Iraqi bases housing American troops

Iran's foreign minister Javad Zarif called the attacks 'self-defense' but said they did 'not seek escalation' but would defend itself against further aggression

 

Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif called the attacks ‘self-defense’ but said they did ‘not seek escalation’ but would defend itself against further aggression

Hours after the launch, a Ukrainian Airlines Boeing 737 caught fire crashed near Tehran killing all 177 passengers and crew – including 63 Canadian and three Britons – amid fears it could have been caught up in the attack.

The Ukrainian embassy in Tehran initially stated that the crash had been caused by an engine failure rather than terrorism or a missile attack, but later deleted that claim.

Iran has blamed technical failure and an engine fire for the crash, after early saying the pilot had lost control during an engine fire.

If it emerges that Iran did shoot down the plane – either accidentally or on purpose – then it is likely to prompt a global response that will escalate tensions in the region even further.

Ukraine’s foreign ministry said of those killed, 82 were Iranian, 63 Canadian, 11 Ukrainian, three British, with the remainder hailing from SwedenAfghanistan, and Germany.

The timing of the Iranian strikes – around 1.20am local time – occurred at the same time as the US drone strike which killed Soleimani.

Following the strikes, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps warned any further strikes by America would be met with fresh attacks, and that any allied countries used as a base for such strikes would themselves become targets.

The Iraqi military said 22 missiles were fired in total – 17 at the Asad base, two of which failed to explode, and five more that struck Erbil International Airport. US officials put the total slightly lower at 15 – ten of which hit Asad, one which hit Erbil, four which failed in flight.

Iran said it had used Fatteh-110 ballistic missiles for the attack, though analysts said images of wreckage near the Aasd base also appears to show Qaim-1 ballistic missiles were used.

The Ain al-Asad airbase in western Iraq – visited by Trump in December 2018 – and Erbil base in Iraqi Kurdistan were struck by the missiles around 5.20pm EST Tuesday in an operation dubbed ‘Martyr Soleimani’ by Iran.

The Pentagon says the missiles were ‘clearly launched from Iran’ to target U.S. military and coalition forces in Iraq. A US official said there were no immediate reports of American casualties, though buildings were still being searched. Iraqi officials say there were no casualties among their forces either.

There are still fears for US forces in the region after Qais al-Khazali, a commander of Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces in Iraq, vowed to exact revenge for the killing of deputy-leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

‘The first Iranian response to the assassination of the martyr leader Soleimani took place,’ he tweeted. ‘Now is the time for the initial Iraqi response to the assassination of the martyr leader Muhandis.

‘And because the Iraqis are brave and zealous, their response will not be less than the size of the Iranian response, and this is a promise.’

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Iran had delivered a 'slap in the face' to American forces but added that missile strikes are 'not enough' and called for the US to be 'uprooted' from the region

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Iran had delivered a ‘slap in the face’ to American forces but added that missile strikes are ‘not enough’ and called for the US to be ‘uprooted’ from the region

The Ayatollah spoke in a televised address early Wednesday during which he praised a 'measured' strike against the US, which he said embodied the spirit of slain general Soleimani

The Ayatollah spoke in a televised address early Wednesday during which he praised a ‘measured’ strike against the US, which he said embodied the spirit of slain general Soleimani

The Ain al-Asad airbase in western Iraq and the Erbil base in Iraqi Kurdistan were both struck by the missiles on Tuesday at about 5.30pm (EST)

 

The Ain al-Asad airbase in western Iraq and the Erbil base in Iraqi Kurdistan were both struck by the missiles on Tuesday at about 5.30pm (EST)

Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were spotted arriving at the White House soon after news of the strikes broke

Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were spotted arriving at the White House soon after news of the strikes broke

Iraqi security forces and citizens gather to inspect the site where missiles fired by Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps landed outside the Ain al-Asad airbase

Iraqi security forces and citizens gather to inspect the site where missiles fired by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps landed outside the Ain al-Asad airbase

Pieces of shrapnel are seen near the Ain al-Asad airbase after a missile strike by Iran

Pieces of shrapnel are seen near the Ain al-Asad airbase after a missile strike by Iran

Members of Peshmerga fighters stand guard in center of Erbil in the aftermath of Iran's launch of a number of missiles at bases in Iraq

Members of Peshmerga fighters stand guard in center of Erbil in the aftermath of Iran’s launch of a number of missiles at bases in Iraq

Members of Kurdistan's regional government attend a meeting to discuss security after Iranian missiles targeted Erbil International Airport early Wednesday

Members of Kurdistan’s regional government attend a meeting to discuss security after Iranian missiles targeted Erbil International Airport early Wednesday

Britain, Australia, France, Poland, Denmark and Finland have confirmed that none of their troops stationed in Iraq were hurt in the attack, while calling for an end to hostilities and a return to talks.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen vowed the EU will ‘spare no effort’ in trying to save the nuclear deal that Iran signed with President Obama and was ripped up by Trump, sparking the current tensions.

China and Russia, both key Iranian allies, also warned against escalating strikes with Vladimir Dzhabarov, lawmaker with Russia’s upper house of parliament, warning the conflict could easily lead to a nuclear war.

The Syrian government, another key ally of Iran, has expressed full solidarity with Iran, saying Tehran has the right to defend itself ‘in the face of American threats and attacks.’

The foreign ministry said in a statement Wednesday that Syria holds the ‘American regime responsible for all the repercussions due to its reckless policy and arrogant mentality.’

Meanwhile Turkey, which is a NATO member but also has ties to Iran in Syria, said its foreign minister will visit Iraq on Thursday as part of diplomatic efforts to ‘alleviate the escalated tension’ in the region.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, which controls the country’s missile program, confirmed that they fired the rockets in retaliation for last week’s killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.

They reported the operation’s name was ‘Martyr Soleimani’ and it took place just hours after the slain general’s funeral.

The rockets used in the attack, according to Iranian TV, were Fatteh-110 ballistic missiles, which have a range of 186 miles or 300km.

The Iranian air force has since deployed multiple fighter jets to patrol it airspace, according to reports – as Iran warned the U.S. and its allies in the region not to retaliate.

The Pentagon said it was still working to assess the damage.

Iranian missiles that blitzed Iraqi airbases can deliver a precision-guided 500lb warhead over a range of more than 180 miles

Two types of ballistic missiles were reportedly used to hit U.S. Military bases in Ain al-Asad in western Iraq and also around Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan.

The majority of those used are believed to be the Fateh-110, which can travel 180 miles or 300km and have a payload of around 500lb.

Reports also suggest the Qiam-1 was also used, a short range ballistic missile produced by Iran which can travel 500 miles and carry 750lb warheads.

The Fateh-110 is an Iranian-designed, short-range, surface-to-surface ballistic missile that can be launched from any location.

While the Qiam-1 was specifically built to target U.S. bases in the Middle East, which have ‘encircled Iran’, according to Iranian sources.

When it was launched the Fateh-110 was described by Iranian defence minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami as ‘100-percent domestically made – agile, stealth, tactical (and) precision-guided’.

Both missiles are reported to have been fired from Tabriz and Kermanshah provinces in Iran.

‘In recent days and in response to Iranian threats and actions, the Department of Defense has taken all appropriate measures to safeguard our personnel and partners. These bases have been on high alert due to indications that the Iranian regime planned to attack our forces,’ a statement from the Pentagon read.

‘It is clear that these missiles were launched from Iran and targeted at least two Iraqi military bases hosting U.S. military and coalition personnel at al-Assad and Irbil. We are working on initial battle damage assessments.

‘As we evaluate the situation and our response, we will take all necessary measures to protect and defend U.S. personnel, partners, and allies in the region.’

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a branch of the Iranian Armed Forces, reportedly said Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei was personally in the control center coordinating the attacks.

They also warned U.S. allies in the Middle East that they would face retaliation if America strikes back against any Iranian targets from their bases.

‘We are warning all American allies, who gave their bases to its terrorist army, that any territory that is the starting point of aggressive acts against Iran will be targeted,’ they said. It also threatened Israel.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were spotted arriving at the White House soon after news of the strikes broke.

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham said on Tuesday night that the missile strikes were an ‘act of war’ and said Trump had all the power he needed to act.

‘This is an act of war by any reasonable definition,’ Graham told Fox News’ Sean Hannity. ‘The President has all the authority he needs under Article II to respond.’

People stand near the wreckage after a Ukrainian plane carrying 177 passengers crashed near Imam Khomeini airport

People stand near the wreckage after a Ukrainian plane carrying 177 passengers crashed near Imam Khomeini airport

Rescue workers in protective suits gather up the bodies of passengers who were killed in the Boeing 737 crash in Iran today

Rescue workers in protective suits gather up the bodies of passengers who were killed in the Boeing 737 crash in Iran today

An aerial view of the crash site where rescuers searched the debris this morning with the cause of the crash still unclear

An aerial view of the crash site where rescuers searched the debris this morning with the cause of the crash still unclear

Mohammad Reza Kadkhoda-Zadeh (pictured), 40, has been named as the first British victim of the Ukrainian Airlines disaster

Mohammad Reza Kadkhoda-Zadeh (pictured), 40, has been named as the first British victim of the Ukrainian Airlines disaster

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tweeted that the U.S., as well as the rest of the world, ‘cannot afford war’.

‘Closely monitoring the situation following bombings targeting U.S. troops in Iraq. We must ensure the safety of our servicemembers, including ending needless provocations from the Administration and demanding that Iran cease its violence. America & world cannot afford war,’ she tweeted.

After the strikes, Saeed Jalili – a former Iranian nuclear negotiator and foreign minister – posted a picture of the Islamic Republic’s flag on Twitter, appearing to mimic Trump who posted an American flag following the killing of Soleimani and others in the drone strike in Baghdad.

Ain al-Asad air base was first used by American forces after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein, and later saw American troops stationed there amid the fight against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. It houses about 1,500 U.S. and coalition forces.

About 70 Norwegian troops also were on the air base but no injuries were reported, Brynjar Stordal, a spokesperson for the Norwegian Armed Forces said.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said on Tuesday it would ban U.S. carriers from operating in the airspace over Iraq, Iran, the Gulf of Oman and the waters between Iran and Saudi Arabia after the missile attack on U.S.-led forces.

Earlier on Tuesday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the United States should anticipate retaliation from Iran over the killing in Iraq of Soleimani.

‘I think we should expect that they will retaliate in some way, shape or form,’ Esper told a news briefing at the Pentagon, adding that such retaliation could be through Iran-backed proxy groups outside of Iran or ‘by their own hand.’

‘We’re prepared for any contingency. And then we will respond appropriately to whatever they do.’

Trump had also earlier told reporters about the prospect of an Iranian attack: ‘We’re totally prepared.’

‘They’re going to be suffering the consequences and very strongly,’ he said from the Oval Office during a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Meanwhile, early reports of an attack at the al-Taji military base, just outside Baghdad, was later reported as a drill.

Local reports initially suggested that five rockets had struck the base after ‘shelter in place’ sirens were heard ringing out around the compound.

Sirens were also heard blaring out inside the U.S. consulate in Erbil, which was one of the bases struck in the missile attack.

Iran said the attack, dubbed Operation Martyr Soleimani, was launched hours after the funeral service for General Qassem Soleimani (pictured) - who was killed in a US drone strike - had finished

Iran said the attack, dubbed Operation Martyr Soleimani, was launched hours after the funeral service for General Qassem Soleimani (pictured) – who was killed in a US drone strike – had finished

Mourners attend funeral and burial of General Soleimani in his hometown in Kerman early Wednesday morning

Mourners attend funeral and burial of General Soleimani in his hometown in Kerman early Wednesday morning

People lower the coffin of Qassem Soleimani into his grave in the city of Kerman, central Iran

People lower the coffin of Qassem Soleimani into his grave in the city of Kerman, central Iran

Mourners rush to lay their hands on the coffin of General Soleimani before it is lowered into a grave in the cit of Kerman

Mourners rush to lay their hands on the coffin of General Soleimani before it is lowered into a grave in the cit of Kerman

Was the Ukrainian jet brought down by an Iranian missile – or were the 176 people on board killed by a mechanical failure? Here are the five key theories

Theory one: Mechanical failure or pilot error 

Iranian authorities have said that initial investigations point to either an engine failure – or a catastrophic pilot error.

The three-year-old Boeing 737 jet came down just three minutes after take-off from Imam Khomeini International Airport.

Iranian officials said the pilot had lost control of the Boeing jet after a fire struck one of the plane’s engines, but said the crew had not reported an emergency and did not say what caused the fire.

Footage of the crash appears to show the plane streaking downwards with a small blaze on the wing, near its jet engines (pictured above on the ground).

But critics have questioned the Iranian account, calling it the ‘fastest investigation in aviation history’ – and said the Boeing 737 has a largely outstanding safety record with no recent history of an engine failure of this kind.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has instructed prosecutors to open criminal proceedings – a clear signal that he is unsure about Iran’s version of events.

His Government also revealed the plane was inspected just two days ago.

Theory two: Accidentally hit by an Iranian missile

The plane came down shortly after Iran launched its missile attacks Iraq with tens of ballistic weapons fired from the rogue state.

Photographs of the downed Ukrainian airlines jet show that the fuselage appears to be peppered with shrapnel damage.

Experts have said that an engine fire or pilot error does not explain those holes (pictured).

Ilya Kusa, a Ukrainian international affairs expert, said amid the US-Iranian tensions and said: ‘It is difficult not to connect the plane crash with the US-Iran confrontation. The situation is very difficult. One must understand that this happened shortly after Iran’s missile attacks on US military facilities’.

Just hours before the crash, the US Federal Aviation Administration had banned US airlines from flying over Iran, Iraq and the waters of the Persian Gulf due to the Middle East crisis.

This was due to the possibility of missiles flying towards Iraq – and airlines are still skirting the region as they head to and from Asia.

Theory three: Jet was deliberately brought down by a missile 

+49

Video footage tweeted by the BBC‘s Iran correspondent, Ali Hashem, appeared to show the plane already burning in the sky before it crashed in a massive explosion.

It sparked speculation that the jet could have been shot down accidentally by nervous Iranian air defence soldiers, hours after Iran fired 22 ballistic missiles at US bases in retaliation for the killing of general Qassem Soleimani.

But there is a major question mark over whether Iran would shoot down a plane with so many of its own citizens on board.

Many of the world’s major airlines have stopped flying through or even near Iranian airspace as they cross the globe amid safety fears after US/Iran tensions boiled over in the past week.

Iran is a key ally of Vladimir Putin’s Russia, which grabbed Crimea from Ukraine and has been involved in an on-off conflict with its neighbour since 2014.

Russia has denied shooting down the ill-fated MH17 jet five years ago – but experts say otherwise with three Russians arrested over the disaster.

 Theory four: An accidental drone strike

Experts have speculated that the Ukrainian aircraft could have collided with a military drone before crashing.

The drone may have smashed into the engine – or been sucked in – with the pilot unsighted because it was after dark.

This could cause an explosion and the fire seen as the plane hit the ground (pictured).

Experts said Iranian were in the air at the time – in case the US decided to fight back – and not always picked up by radar.

Russian military pilot Vladimir Popov said: ‘It could have been an unmanned reconnaissance aircraft, which are small in size and poorly visible on radars. A plane in a collision could get significant damage and even catch fire in the air.’

Theory five: Sabotage or a terror attack

Aviation experts have urged investigators to rule out whether the plane was brought down by terrorists or as an act of sabotage.

They say that while a flaming engine is highly unusual, the sudden loss of data communications from the plane is even more so.

This could be caused by a bomb, that blew up after the 737 took to the air, wrecking its systems.

An electronic jammer weapon that knocked out the plane’s controls could also explain it.

British expert Julian Bray said it ‘could be an altitude triggered device set to detonate during take off. Unusual that engine seen to be on fire before crash, points to catastrophic incident’ or being ‘deliberately brought down’.

He added that based on the footage pilot error looks ‘unlikely’.

Experts have said that if the black box is not recovered by Iranian security officials (pictured) from the wreckage it could point to it being a deliberate act.

After the crash the Ukrainian embassy in Tehran reported that the crash had been caused by an engine failure rather than terrorism – but this was later deleted on social media.

The strikes by Iran were a major escalation of tensions that have been rising steadily across the Mideast following months of threats and attacks after Trump’s decision to unilaterally withdraw America from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers.

Soleimani’s killing and Iran’s missile strikes also marked the first time in recent years that Washington and Tehran have attacked each other directly rather than through proxies in the region.

After the strikes, Saeed Jalili - a former Iranian nuclear negotiator - posted a picture of the Islamic Republic's flag on Twitter, appearing to mimic Trump who posted an American flag following the killing of Soleimani and others in the drone strike in Baghdad

After the strikes, Saeed Jalili – a former Iranian nuclear negotiator – posted a picture of the Islamic Republic’s flag on Twitter, appearing to mimic Trump who posted an American flag following the killing of Soleimani and others in the drone strike in Baghdad

It raised the chances of open conflict erupting between the two nations, which have been foes since the days immediately following Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The revenge attack came a mere few hours after crowds in Iran mourned Soleimani and as the U.S. continued to reinforce its own positions in the region and warned of an unspecified threat to shipping from Iran in the region’s waterways, crucial routes for global energy supplies.

U.S. embassies and consulates from Asia to Africa and Europe issued security alerts for Americans. The U.S. Air Force launched a drill with 52 fighter jets in Utah on Monday, just days after Trump threatened to hit 52 sites in Iran.

Meanwhile a stampede broke out Tuesday at Soleimani’s funeral in his hometown of Kerman and at least 56 people were killed and more than 200 were injured as thousands thronged the procession, Iranian news reports said.

There was no information about what set off the crush in the packed streets. Online videos showed only its aftermath: people lying apparently lifeless, their faces covered by clothing, emergency crews performing CPR on the fallen and onlookers wailing and crying out to God.

A procession in Tehran on Monday drew over one million people in the Iranian capital, crowding both main avenues and side streets.

Hossein Salami, Soleimani’s successor as leader of the Revolutionary Guard, addressed a crowd of supporters gathered at the coffin in a central square in Kernan.

He vowed to avenge Soleimani, saying: ‘We tell our enemies that we will retaliate but if they take another action we will set ablaze the places that they like and are passionate about’.

The al-Asad base for American and coalition troops (pictured above in December) was struck by missiles ‘clearly launched from Iran’, U.S. officials say

The Erbil base in Iraqi Kurdistan, which provides facilities and services to at least hundreds of coalition personnel and CIA operatives, was also hit in the missile attack+49

The Erbil base in Iraqi Kurdistan, which provides facilities and services to at least hundreds of coalition personnel and CIA operatives, was also hit in the missile attack

President Trump’s speech on Iran

As long as I am President of the United States, Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon.

Good morning. I’m pleased to inform you: The American people should be extremely grateful and happy no Americans were harmed in last night’s attack by the Iranian regime. We suffered no casualties, all of our soldiers are safe, and only minimal damage was sustained at our military bases.

Our great American forces are prepared for anything. Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world.

No American or Iraqi lives were lost because of the precautions taken, the dispersal of forces, and an early warning system that worked very well. I salute the incredible skill and courage of America’s men and women in uniform.

For far too long — all the way back to 1979, to be exact — nations have tolerated Iran’s destructive and destabilizing behavior in the Middle East and beyond. Those days are over. Iran has been the leading sponsor of terrorism, and their pursuit of nuclear weapons threatens the civilized world. We will never let that happen.

Last week, we took decisive action to stop a ruthless terrorist from threatening American lives. At my direction, the United States military eliminated the world’s top terrorist, Qasem Soleimani. As the head of the Quds Force, Soleimani was personally responsible for some of the absolutely worst atrocities.

He trained terrorist armies, including Hezbollah, launching terrorist strikes against civilian targets. He fueled bloody civil wars all across the region. He viciously wounded and murdered thousands of U.S. troops, including the planting of roadside bombs that maim and dismember their victims.

Soleimani directed the recent attacks on U.S. personnel in Iraq that badly wounded four service members and killed one American, and he orchestrated the violent assault on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. In recent days, he was planning new attacks on American targets, but we stopped him.

Soleimani’s hands were drenched in both American and Iranian blood. He should have been terminated long ago. By removing Soleimani, we have sent a powerful message to terrorists: If you value your own life, you will not threaten the lives of our people.

As we continue to evaluate options in response to Iranian aggression, the United States will immediately impose additional punishing economic sanctions on the Iranian regime. These powerful sanctions will remain until Iran changes its behavior.

In recent months alone, Iran has seized ships in international waters, fired an unprovoked strike on Saudi Arabia, and shot down two U.S. drones.

Iran’s hostilities substantially increased after the foolish Iran nuclear deal was signed in 2013, and they were given $150 billion, not to mention $1.8 billion in cash. Instead of saying “thank you” to the United States, they chanted “death to America.” In fact, they chanted “death to America” the day the agreement was signed.

Then, Iran went on a terror spree, funded by the money from the deal, and created hell in Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Iraq. The missiles fired last night at us and our allies were paid for with the funds made available by the last administration. The regime also greatly tightened the reins on their own country, even recently killing 1,500 people at the many protests that are taking place all throughout Iran.

The very defective JCPOA expires shortly anyway, and gives Iran a clear and quick path to nuclear breakout. Iran must abandon its nuclear ambitions and end its support for terrorism. The time has come for the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia, and China to recognize this reality.

They must now break away from the remnants of the Iran deal -– or JCPOA –- and we must all work together toward making a deal with Iran that makes the world a safer and more peaceful place. We must also make a deal that allows Iran to thrive and prosper, and take advantage of its enormous untapped potential. Iran can be a great country.

Peace and stability cannot prevail in the Middle East as long as Iran continues to foment violence, unrest, hatred, and war. The civilized world must send a clear and unified message to the Iranian regime: Your campaign of terror, murder, mayhem will not be tolerated any longer. It will not be allowed to go forward.

Today, I am going to ask NATO to become much more involved in the Middle East process. Over the last three years, under my leadership, our economy is stronger than ever before and America has achieved energy independence. These historic accompliments [accomplishments] changed our strategic priorities. These are accomplishments that nobody thought were possible. And options in the Middle East became available. We are now the number-one producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world. We are independent, and we do not need Middle East oil.

The American military has been completely rebuilt under my administration, at a cost of $2.5 trillion. U.S. Armed Forces are stronger than ever before. Our missiles are big, powerful, accurate, lethal, and fast. Under construction are many hypersonic missiles.

The fact that we have this great military and equipment, however, does not mean we have to use it. We do not want to use it. American strength, both military and economic, is the best deterrent.

Three months ago, after destroying 100 percent of ISIS and its territorial caliphate, we killed the savage leader of ISIS, al-Baghdadi, who was responsible for so much death, including the mass beheadings of Christians, Muslims, and all who stood in his way. He was a monster. Al-Baghdadi was trying again to rebuild the ISIS caliphate, and failed.

Tens of thousands of ISIS fighters have been killed or captured during my administration. ISIS is a natural enemy of Iran. The destruction of ISIS is good for Iran, and we should work together on this and other shared priorities.

Finally, to the people and leaders of Iran: We want you to have a future and a great future — one that you deserve, one of prosperity at home, and harmony with the nations of the world. The United States is ready to embrace peace with all who seek it.

I want to thank you, and God bless America. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you.

– White House transcript

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7865171/Trump-address-world-Iran-Ayatollah-calls-missile-attack-not-revenge.html

 

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Iran fires TENS of ballistic missiles at US bases in Iraq in operation ‘Martyr Soleimani’ after promising ‘crushing revenge’ for Trump’s decision to kill the top general in drone strike

  • Iran fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two Iraqi bases housing American troops on Tuesday
  • Ayn al Asad airbase in western Iraq that was visited by Trump in December 2018 and the Erbil base in Iraqi Kurdistan were both struck by the missiles 
  • The Pentagon says the missiles were ‘clearly launched from Iran’ to target U.S. military and coalition forces in Iraq 
  • Trump has been briefed on the attacks and Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were spotted arriving at the White House
  • Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said they fired the rockets in retaliation for last week’s killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani
  • They reported the operation’s name was ‘Martyr Soleimani’ and it took place just hours after the slain general’s funeral 
  • The rockets used in the attack, according to Iranian TV, are Fatteh-110 ballistic missiles, which have a range of 186 miles or 300km 

Iran has fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two Iraqi bases housing American troops in a revenge attack for the U.S. drone strike that killed a top Iranian general.

The Ayn al Asad airbase in western Iraq that was visited by Donald Trump in December 2018 and the Erbil base in Iraqi Kurdistan were both struck by the missiles on Tuesday at about 5.30pm (EST).

The Pentagon says the missiles were ‘clearly launched from Iran’ to target U.S. military and coalition forces in Iraq. There was no immediate word on injuries but security sources told CNN that there were Iraqi casualties at the Al Asad airbase.

President Donald Trump has been briefed on the attacks and Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were spotted arriving at the White House soon after news of the strikes broke.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, which controls the country’s missile program, confirmed that they fired the rockets in retaliation for last week’s killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, according to state TV.

They reported the operation’s name was ‘Martyr Soleimani’ and it took place just hours after the slain general’s funeral.

The rockets used in the attack, according to Iranian TV, were Fatteh-110 ballistic missiles, which have a range of 186 miles or 300km.

The Iranian air force has since deployed multiple fighter jets to patrol it airspace, according to reports – as Iran warned the U.S. and its allies in the region not to retaliate.

Iran has fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two Iraqi bases housing American troops in a revenge attack for the U.S. drone strike that killed a top Iranian general

Iran has fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two Iraqi bases housing American troops in a revenge attack for the U.S. drone strike that killed a top Iranian general

The rockets hit Ain Asad (pictured) which houses US and coalition troops
The rockets hit Ain Asad (pictured) which houses US and coalition troops

The Ayn al Asad airbase in western Iraq that was visited by Donald Trump in December 2018 and the Erbil base in Iraqi Kurdistan were both struck by the missiles on Tuesday at about 5.30pm (EST)

The Pentagon says the missiles were 'clearly launched from Iran' to target U.S. military and coalition forces in Iraq

The Pentagon says the missiles were ‘clearly launched from Iran’ to target U.S. military and coalition forces in Iraq

Iranian TV airs apparent firing of missiles at US base in Iraq
The Pentagon said it was still working to assess the damage.

‘In recent days and in response to Iranian threats and actions, the Department of Defense has taken all appropriate measures to safeguard our personnel and partners. These bases have been on high alert due to indications that the Iranian regime planned to attack our forces,’ a statement from the Pentagon read.

‘It is clear that these missiles were launched from Iran and targeted at least two Iraqi military bases hosting U.S. military and coalition personnel at Al-Assad and Irbil. We are working on initial battle damage assessments.

‘As we evaluate the situation and our response, we will take all necessary measures to protect and defend U.S. personnel, partners, and allies in the region.’

President Trump has been briefed on the rocket attacks and is expected to address the nation later on Tuesday night.

‘We are aware of the reports of attacks on US facilities in Iraq. The President has been briefed and is monitoring the situation closely and consulting with his national security team,’ White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said immediately after the attacks.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a branch of the Iranian Armed Forces, reportedly said Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei was personally in the control center coordinating the attacks.

They also warned U.S. allies in the Middle East that they would face retaliation if America strikes back against any Iranian targets from their bases.

President Trump and First Lady Melania visited the Al Asad airbase in western Iraq in December 2018. The airbase was targeted by Iran on Tuesday in a missile attack

President Trump and First Lady Melania visited the Al Asad airbase in western Iraq in December 2018. The airbase was targeted by Iran on Tuesday in a missile attack

The Ayn al Asad airbase in western Iraq that was visited by Donald Trump in December 2018 and the Erbil base in Iraqi Kurdistan were both struck by the missiles on Tuesday at about 5.30pm (EST)

The Ayn al Asad airbase in western Iraq that was visited by Donald Trump in December 2018 and the Erbil base in Iraqi Kurdistan were both struck by the missiles on Tuesday at about 5.30pm (EST)

The Al Asad base for American and coalition troops (pictured above in December) was struck by missiles 'clearly launched from Iran', U.S. officials say

The Al Asad base for American and coalition troops (pictured above in December) was struck by missiles ‘clearly launched from Iran’, U.S. officials say

Earlier on Tuesday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the United States should anticipate retaliation from Iran over the killing in Iraq of Soleimani.

‘I think we should expect that they will retaliate in some way, shape or form,’ Esper told a news briefing at the Pentagon, adding that such retaliation could be through Iran-backed proxy groups outside of Iran or ‘by their own hand.’

‘We’re prepared for any contingency. And then we will respond appropriately to whatever they do.’

Trump had also earlier told reporters about the prospect of an Iranian attack: ‘We’re totally prepared.’

‘They’re going to be suffering the consequences and very strongly,’ he said from the Oval Office during a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Meanwhile, early reports of an attack at the al-Taji military base, just outside Baghdad, was later reported as a drill.

Local reports initially suggested that five rockets had struck the base after ‘shelter in place’ sirens were heard ringing out around the compound.

Sirens were also heard blaring out inside the U.S. consulate in Erbil, which was one of the bases struck in the missile attack.

However, Kurdistan 24 reporter Barzan Sadiq later tweeted that the base was calm on Tuesday night and suggested the purported attack was likely just a drill

 

However, Kurdistan 24 reporter Barzan Sadiq later tweeted that the base was calm on Tuesday night and suggested the purported attack was likely just a drill

 

Kurdistan 24 reporter Barzan Sadiq later tweeted that the base was al-Taji calm on Tuesday night and suggested the purported attack was likely just a drill

Local reports initially suggested that five rocket had struck the al-Taji military base, situated 30km north of Baghdad, after ‘shelter in place’ siren were heard ringing out around the compound

Reports of the strike occurred just hours after a flurry of US airstrikes were carried out on militia bases in Western Iraq and Syria, targeting Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), a paramilitary umbrella group that is part of the Iraqi government.

U.S. forces were said to be specifically targeting the Kataib Hezbollah (KH), a faction within the PMU, in response to repeated attacks against US-led coalition forces in Iraq.

The targeted three KH bases in Iraq and two in Syria, under the belief each of the locations ‘included weapon storage facilities and command and control locations that KH uses to plan and execute attacks on coalition forces.’

Trump had said troops should stay at the base to watch Iran.

‘I want to be able to watch Iran,’ Trump said in and interview with CBS’s Face the Nation in February 2019.

‘We’re going to keep watching and we’re going to keep seeing and if there’s trouble, if somebody is looking to do nuclear weapons or other things, we’re going to know it before they do.’

Iran is considering its options against America in retaliation for the killing of Quds commander Qassem Soleimeni in Baghdad. The conflict could quickly spiral out of control, dragging in other world powers including Russia, Turkey and China

 

Iran is considering 13 ‘revenge scenarios’ over the death of General Soleimani as top official vows to create ‘historic nightmare’ for the US

  • Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani was killed by US airstrike in Iraq last week
  • Tehran has pledged to exact a ‘crushing revenge’ on America in retaliation 
  • Iran has been considering 13 ‘revenge scenarios’ in retaliation, top official said 
  • Even the weakest option will create an ‘historic nightmare’ for the US, he said

Iran is considering 13 ‘revenge scenarios’ in retaliation for the US airstrike that killed General Qassem Soleimani in Iraq, a top official has said.

Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, vowed that even if Tehran opted for the weakest option, it will create an ‘historic nightmare for the Americans’.

While Shamkhani would not reveal any specific details of the plans, he said all US forces in the Middle East are being considered for strikes.

Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council (centre), revealed Tehran is considering 13 'revenge scenarios' in retaliation for the killing of General Soleimani

Even if the security council votes for the weakest option it will mean an 'historic nightmare for the Americans', Shamkani warned (pictured, a protester in Iran)

He said that US bases across Iraq are being kept under close surveillance and claimed to know the exact number of personnel and equipment being kept at each.

‘We insist that all troops be withdrawn,’ he said, according to Iranian newspaper Resalat. ‘If the troops want to dig into the bases, we will destroy the bases in addition to the troops.

‘Those who crawl into shelters and close the doors hoping to escape our revenge are unaware that the Islamic Republic will open the door to hell.’

He later added: ‘If the US troops do not leave our region voluntarily and upright, we will do something to carry their bodies out horizontally.’

Iran has vowed to exact a ‘crushing revenge’ over the killing of Soleimani, which is expected to ramp up Tuesday after a three-day period of mourning ends.

The country has already ripped up what remained of the nuclear deal signed under Obama in the wake of the strike, and Iraq has voted to kick all US troops out.

Rockets have also been launched at the Green Zone surrounding the US embassy in Baghdad, with the area expected to come under increasing attacks.

While Iran has not made its future plans clear, some 5,000 US troops stationed across Iraq and 500 still in Syria are expected to be targeted in response.

Hassan Nasrallah, the Lebanese secretary-general of Iran-backed Hezbollah, said all US bases, all warships and every single soldier in the region is now a target.

‘The true, just retribution for those who conducted this assassination is an institution, which is the U.S. military,’ he said during a ceremony to mourn Soleimani’s death in Beirut on Sunday.

‘We will launch a battle against those killers, those criminals.’

US intelligence believes that Iran will try to kill one of its top generals in the region in a tit-for-tat slaying.

One official said the U.S. anticipates a ‘major’ attack of some type within the next day or two.

Iranian lawmakers holding pictures of slain Iran's Quds Force leader Qasem Soleimani as they chant 'death to America' during a session on Tuesday

Iran's response to Soleimani's killing is expected to ramp up Tuesday when a three-day period of mourning comes to an end (pictured, funeral procession in his home town of Kerman)

The U.S. military has increased protection of its forces, particularly in Iraq.

Six long-range B-52 bombers have also been stationed on Diego Garcia, a British-controlled island in the Indian ocean – putting them out of range of Iranian missiles but within striking distance of the country.

Pentagon officials said the B-52s will be available for operations against the Islamic Republic if ordered into action.

Meanwhile the US Air Force put on a show of strength in Utah, after carrying out a training exercise with 52 F-35A Lightining II stealth fighters.

‘We’re ready to fly, fight, and win,’ the 419th Fighter Wings tweeted after the exercise.

They added the exercise ‘pushed the boundaries and tested our Airmen’s ability to deploy the F-35As en masse’

The 52 F-35A aircrafts, which are worth a whopping $4.2 billion, took off in quick succession from the Hill Air Force Base in Utah on Monday following an elephant walk down the runway

The 52 F-35A aircrafts, which are worth a whopping $4.2 billion, took off in quick succession from the Hill Air Force Base in Utah on Monday following an elephant walk down the runway

NATO has said it is withdrawing ‘some personnel’ from Iraq over fears for their safety, after cancelling a training exercise on Saturday.

Iran’s parliament passed a bill on Tuesday designating all US forces ‘terrorists’ over the killing.

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 co-operation in a terrorist act,’ the Iranian parliament said.

According to reports on social media, Iranian lawmakers chanted ‘Death to America’ while voting for passage of the bill.

Lawmakers also voted to bolster by £170million the coffers of the Quds Force – the foreign operations arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards that was headed by Soleimani.

The bill was an amended version of a law adopted in April last year that declared the United States a ‘state sponsor of terrorism’ and its forces in the region ‘terror groups’.

A U.S. Air Force pilot takes off in his Air Force F-35A aircraft from the 388th and 428th Fighter Wings to participate in the combat power exercise

Iran’s top security body, the Supreme National Security Council, said that blackisting came after the US designated Iran’s Revolutionary Guards a ‘terrorist organisation’.

Iran and America have careened from one flare-up to another since Trump began his ‘maximum pressure’ campaign against Iran shortly after taking office.

He tore up the 2015 nuclear deal and reimposed crushing economic sanctions, both steps aimed at preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and deterring the sort of regional aggression spearheaded by Soleimani.

Two U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss internal discussions, said targeting Soleimani was not representative of a wholesale shift in American policy toward Iran, despite Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s comments on Sunday that the U.S. was targeting Iran’s ‘actual decision-makers’ rather than its network of proxy allies.

Trump has repeatedly contended that he is not seeking ‘regime change’ in Iran, as has been pushed by some of his more hawkish advisers.

Still, Trump’s strike against Soleimani, a revered figure in Iran whose death sparked large displays of anger and grief, was a risky decision his Republican and Democratic predecessors opted not to take out of concern it would draw the U.S. and Iran closer to conflict.

The Pentagon is deploying six B-52 Stratofortress bombers (like the ones seen in the above stock image) to a military base in the northern Indian Ocean, according to a CNN report from Monday

The strategic bombers were on their way Monday to Diego Garcia, an atoll that is home to a vital US military base

The strategic bombers were on their way Monday to Diego Garcia, an atoll that is home to a vital US military base

U.S. officials are also aware that Iran could try to strike a high-level American leader in a ‘tit-for-tat’ move, potentially a military commander.

One official said some Iranian ships have spread out, and while the intent isn´t immediately clear, they could move rapidly to attack.

The U.S. military has increased protection of its forces, particularly in Iraq. Officials said a number of the recently deployed soldiers from the 1st Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division had moved into Iraq from Kuwait in order to increase security for Americans there.

The U.S. military has stopped all training of Iraqi forces to focus on force protection, officials said.

As of Monday, officials said, there had not been a broadly distributed order or recommendation to increase security at military installations worldwide. Instead, decisions were being left up to the commanders.

 

 

‘Don’t mess with me’: Moment nail-spitting Nancy Pelosi ERUPTS when reporter asks if she hates Donald Trump after she ordered Democrats to write formal articles of impeachment

  • Pelosi said she is instructing committees to proceed with impeachment articles against the president: ‘Our democracy is what is at stake’
  • When a reporter asked her, ‘Do you hate the president?’ she became unusually angry and insisted she doesn’t ‘hate’ anyone
  • Pelosi said she prays for the president but Trump tweeted that he doesn’t believe her 
  • Democrats are hurrying to compete their work by the end of the year; speaker didn’t say when she might call a vote 
  • Democrats are debating whether to include an article on obstruction of justice as laid out in the report by special counsel Robert Mueller
  • Politicians are split along party lines on whether Trump committed an impeachable offense when he asked Ukraine president to investigate Joe Biden 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi erupted Thursday at a reporter who asked if she hates President Donald Trump. Pelosi had two hours earlier publicly told House Democrats to draft articles of impeachment to try to remove the president from office.

‘Do you hate the president, Madam Speaker?’ asked James Rosen, a longtime correspondent for Fox News who is now with Sinclair Broadcasting.

Pelosi, typically even-tempered, abandoned her measured speaking and became visibly angry.

‘I pray for the president all the time,’ she shot back. ‘So don’t mess with me when it comes to words like that.’

‘Nancy Pelosi just had a nervous fit. … She says she “prays for the President.” I don’t believe her, not even close,’ he wrote in a tweet.

‘She hates that we will soon have 182 great new judges and sooo much more. Stock Market and employment records,’ he added, before sniping about her hometown San Francisco’s chronic homelessness problem.

The California Democrat had said before storming off the stage that hatred ‘has nothing to do with’ her crusade to impeach Trump.

Also on Thursday, when reporter asked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, 'Do you hate the president?' she became unusually angry and insisted she doesn't 'hate' anyone: 'Don't mess with me when it comes to words like that!'

Pelosi erupted in response to a question from Sinclair Broadcasting reporter James Rosen (center-right, arm raised), who asked whether she hates Trump

Pelosisaid she prays for Trump, and he tweeted that he doesn't believe it: 'Not even close'

Pelosi insisted she hates no one, and that she often prays for the president

‘Let me say this: I think the president is a coward when it comes to helping kids who are afraid of gun violence. I think he is cruel when he doesn’t deal with helping our dreamers, of which we’re very proud. I think he’s in denial about the climate crisis,’ she said.

But ‘take it up in the election,’ Pelosi continued. ‘This is about the Constitution of the United States and the fact that leads to the president’s violation of his oath of office. And as a Catholic, I resent your using the word “hate” in a sentence that addresses me. I don’t hate anyone.’

Pelosi’s decision to fast-track impeachment articles, the congressional equivalent of criminal charges against Trump, sets up an almost certainly successful House vote likely trial in the Senate, with implications for not only the Trump presidency but control of Congress.

‘Our democracy is what is at stake,’ the longtime liberal lawmaker told reporters in a formal statement outside her ornate balcony on the second floor of the Capitol. ‘Today I am asking our chairmen to proceed with articles of impeachment.’

She did not specify which articles of impeachment she favored—an issue of intense debate within her caucus—or how quickly she might call a vote, another fraught question.

The speaker also left no doubt where she personally comes down on the matter, after spending many months initially resisting a push to impeach.

‘The president’s actions have seriously violated the Constitution,’ she said in her televised statement, speaking in somber tones in a measured voice.

‘His wrongdoing strikes at the very heart of our Constitution it’s separation of powers,’ she intoned – ‘three coequal branches, each a check and balance on the other.’

Trump quickly attacked the move on Twitter, warning Democrats were impeaching him over ‘NOTHING.’

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said she has instructed House committees to draw up impeachment articles against President Trump

President Trump countered on Twitter that Democrats were impeaching him over 'NOTHING'

President Trump countered on Twitter that Democrats were impeaching him over ‘NOTHING’

He said their actions would lower the bar and be 'used routinely to attack future Presidents'

He said their actions would lower the bar and be ‘used routinely to attack future Presidents’

‘Impeachment will be used routinely to attack future Presidents. That is not what our Founders had in mind,’ Trump retorted on Twitter.

She also appeared to suggest the potential for a sweeping set of impeachment articles – by accusing Trump of corruption in the 2016 election alongside his more recent moves. The House Intelligence Committee’s inquiry dealt primarily with Trump’s actions as recently as this fall and summer dealing with Ukraine.

‘The president leaves us no choice but to act, because he is trying to corrupt, once again, the election for his own benefit,’ Pelosi said.

What we do know on impeachment after Pelosi’s speech (and what we don’t)

WHAT WE KNOW 

Democratic committees will draft articles of impeachment for president Trump.

Pelosi used plural language, implying the House Intelligence Committee would continue to be involved, although Judiciary is the place such action would occur.

The committee must hold formal public hearings where articles would be voted on by members.

If those articles are ordered reported in Committee, House leaders would then bring them quickly to the House floor for a vote.

There would be public debate before such a vote, and each member’s vote will be recorded.

Then, the matter will go to the Senate, where Senate leaders have said a trial will occur.

WHAT WE DON’T KNOW 

Pelosi didn’t say what the impeachment articles would be.

She didn’t say whether obstruction of justice – alleged in the Mueller report – would be included.

Obstruction of Congress is another possibility.

Lawmakers are considering various abuse of power related articles.

She did not say when committees would act.

She didn’t say when the goal would be to have the House vote – or if year’s end is the official goal.

She did not speak on the likelihood of passage, although she would be unlikely to proceed without knowing the outcome.

Pelosi did not reveal who House impeachment managers will be. They are charged with arguing the case in the Senate.

The terms of the Senate trial are fluid. Witnesses are called, but it is unclear if the White House will follow through on Trump’s call to bring forward Pelosi, Adam Schiff, and the Bidens as witnesses.

The timing is also unknown. Senate Leader Mitch McConnell has blocked out time in January – but Democratic presidential primaries start in early February.

‘The president has engaged in abuse of power, undermining our national security and jeopardizing the integrity of our elections,’ she continued. ‘His actions are in defiance of the vision of our founders and the oath of office that he takes to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”‘

‘Sadly, but with confidence and humility, with allegiance to our founders,  and a heart full of love for America, today I am asking our chairmen to proceed with articles of impeachment.’

She thanked committee chairs and members ‘for their somber approach’ to deal with actions the president made ‘necessary.’

The Catholic lawmaker invoked Declaration of Independence signers’ reliance on Divine Provenance.

She said Democrats were ‘prayerful’ and will proceed in a manner ‘worthy of our oath of office.’

There is much Pelosi did not say about a way forward – including what precise articles she wants the House Judiciary to draw up. The House intelligence committee, which began the probe under Pelosi ally Adam Schiff, has said it will continue its inquiry.

Seeking to bring her comments above the partisan mud fest that the two initial public hearings have become, Pelosi quoted a long list of Founders in her comments: James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, George Mason and and Constitution signer Gouverneur Morris.

‘The founders feared the return of the monarchy in America,’ Pelosi said, in terms that compared Trump to a corrupt tyrant and a king. In particular, she said, they feared one who ‘might betray his trust to for powers,’ she said.

Pelosi, who for months resisted the drive that began among members of her party’s liberal wing, has since jumped aboard, setting up a House Intelligence impeachment inquiry and Wednesday Judiciary Committee hearing.

Minutes before Pelosi was to announce her plans, President Trump weighed in with his own suggestion that Democrats hurry up their House effort to bring on a trial.

‘The Do Nothing Democrats had a historically bad day yesterday in the House. They have no Impeachment case and are demeaning our Country. But nothing matters to them, they have gone crazy. Therefore I say, if you are going to impeach me, do it now, fast, so we can have a fair …trial in the Senate, and so that our Country can get back to business,’ Trump wrote.

‘We will have Schiff, the Bidens, Pelosi and many more testify, and will reveal, for the first time, how corrupt our system really is,’ he said, laying out plans that lawmakers and his legal team might or might not go along with. ‘I was elected to ‘Clean the Swamp,’ and that’s what I am doing!’ he added.

Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale used similar language in his own statement.

‘We are less than a year away from Election Day 2020 and Democrats can’t possibly explain to the American people why they want to take the decision of who should be president out of the hands of voters,’ he wrote.

‘But impeaching the President has always been their goal, so they should just get on with it so we can have a fair trial in the Senate and expose The Swamp for what it is. Speaker Pelosi, Chairman Schiff, and Hunter Biden should testify, and then we can get back to the business of our country.’

Do US a favor: Trump said he was asking Ukraine to help 'our Country' by investigating Joe Biden and the 2016 elections

Do US a favor: Trump said he was asking Ukraine to help ‘our Country’ by investigating Joe Biden and the 2016 elections

He called on Democrats to apologize to the American people

'Our democracy is what is at stake,' the longtime California lawmaker said

She spoke in the corridor outside the Speaker's balcony in the Capitol before a bank of American flags

The president is focused on making the case against impeachment in the Senate, the White House signaled Wednesday as House Democrats continue to plow toward recommending impeachment to the upper chamber.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who holds considerable sway over how impeachment will go in his chamber, said on the Floor Thursday: ‘For weeks now, Republicans have beeen asking Democrats to take off their impeachment blinders and let Congress legislate for the American people.’ He said ‘Democrats literally obsess over impeachment.’

Today, he said, ‘the Speaker gave a speech on national television to push forward her rushed and partisan impeachment. Not one word, not one word on the outstanding legislation the American people actually need. Nothing on USMCA or the NDAA or funding for our armed forces. All impeachment, all the time, said McConnell, who served in the Senate during the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, whom he accused at the time of a ‘persistent pattern and practice of obstruction of justice.’

White House director of legislative affairs Eric Ueland, a longtime former Senate aide, said Trump ‘wants his case made fully in the Senate.’

‘In this instance, we believe very strongly — given the fatally flawed process in the House — that if they were to elect against our better advice [and] send over impeachment to the Senate, that we need witnesses as part of our trial and a full defense of the president on the facts,’ Ueland told reporters, gesturing toward the Senate chamber, according to The Washington Post.

Ueland, along with White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, met with GOP senators on Wednesday as the House Judiciary Committee conducted its first public hearing.

President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky looks on during a meeting in New York on September 25, 2019, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly

Pelosi's statement was carried on multiple platforms

Pelosi’s statement was carried on multiple platforms

Ueland signaled that the White House was focused on the likely Senate trial where he feels they will be able to make a fair defense.

While speaking with reporters at the White House Monday, the president’s counselor, Kellyanne Conway, said Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff should testify because he is a fact witness in the impeachment inquiry.

She even said if Schiff testified under oath Wednesday before the Judiciary Committee she would show up on Capitol Hill.

Republicans have also asserted that Hunter Biden should appear to testify – since his business dealings in Ukraine are also at the center of the president’s actions that led to the impeachment inquiry.

Trump’s missive came a day after key White House advisors lunched with Senate Republicans to plot strategy on how to handle impeachment in the Senate.

Trump’s push for speedy House Democratic action, if sincere, would put him on the same page as Democratic leaders, who have been fearful of dragging out impeachment long into the new year. They fear it could interfere with their party’s message of working on kitchen table issues like health care and prescription drug costs.

To date, Pelosi has refrained from sweeping pronouncements on process, preferring to let House committees and investigations go forward at their own pace, at least publicly.

‘Are you ready?’ she asked her colleagues Wednesday during a closed-door meeting, earning yells of approval from fellow Democrats, the Washington Post reported.

She has yet to give lawmakers a firm timeline for what comes next – although all indications are that Democrats are rushing to complete impeachment by the end of the year.

That would provide barely enough time for Judiciary to consider and vote on articles of impeachment, setting up a House vote. That could bring a Senate trial early next year.

For that to happen, though Democrats must reach some decisions among themselves over how expansive a set of impeachment articles they want to craft.

The House Intelligence Committee kept its public hearings to Trump’ and his administration and emissaries’ conduct – and its 300-page report dealt with alleged abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

But some influential Democrats want to plumb the findings of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s 448-page report, which investigated 10 instances of potential obstruction of justice.

Some Democrats are pushing the party to incorporate Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election and other actions by Trump as articles of impeachment.

Democrats say no decision has been made at this point on the specific charges. They could include abuse of power, bribery, obstruction of Congress and obstruction of justice.

More centrist and moderate Democrats prefer to stick with the Ukraine matter as a simpler narrative that Americans understand. As complex as the Ukraine affair has become, it has the virtue of being a more contained set of circumstances.

Obstruction of justice could encompass Trump’s conduct allegedly trying to shut down the Mueller probe, his interactions with former White House counsel Don McGahn, payments to porn star Stormy Daniels, and a variety of ancillary issues.

Either way, Democrats could begin drafting articles of impeachment in a matter of days, with a Judiciary Committee vote next week.

The full House could vote by Christmas. Then the matter would move to the Senate for a trial in 2020.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff,

Robert Mueller, Former Special Counsel for the United States Department of Justice

Democrats are debating whether to include an article on obstruction of justice as laid out in the report by special counsel Robert Mueller.  House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff,left, is leading the impeachment hearings

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019

On Wednesday, three leading legal scholars testified that President Donald Trump’s attempts to have Ukraine investigate Democratic rivals are grounds for impeachment.

The legal opinions bolster the Democrats’ case as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi makes sure they’re prepared for that momentous next step.

A fourth expert called by Republicans at the Judiciary Committee warned against rushing the process, arguing it would be the shortest of impeachment proceedings, with the ‘thinnest’ record of evidence in modern times, setting a worrisome standard.

Meeting behind closed doors ahead of the initial Judiciary hearing to consider potential articles of impeachment, Pelosi asked House Democrats a simple question: ‘Are you ready?’

The answer was a resounding yes.

Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, joined at left by Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., makes his opening statements on Wednesday

Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, joined at left by Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., makes his opening statements on Wednesday

Though no date has been set, the Democrats are charging toward a Christmastime vote on removing the 45th president. It’s a starkly partisan undertaking, a situation Pelosi hoped to avoid but now seems inevitable.

Trump is alleged to have abused the power of his office by putting personal political gain over national security interests, engaging in bribery by withholding $400 million in military aid Congress had approved for Ukraine; and then obstructing Congress by stonewalling the investigation.

Across the Capitol on Wednesday, the polarizing political divide over impeachment, only the fourth such inquiry in the nation´s history, was on display.

At the Judiciary hearing Democrats sided with the scholars who said Trump´s actions reached the Constitution´s threshold of ‘bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.’ Republicans pointed to the lone professor they were allowed to invite, who said impeachment was not warranted.

Democrats in the House say the inquiry is a duty. Republican representatives say it’s a sham. And quietly senators of both parties conferred on Wednesday, preparing for an eventual Trump trial.

‘Never before, in the history of the republic, have we been forced to consider the conduct of a president who appears to have solicited personal, political favors from a foreign government,’ said Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., as he gaveled open the landmark House hearing.

Nadler said Trump’s phone call seeking a ‘favor’ from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy wasn’t the first time he had sought foreign help to influence an American election, noting Russian interference in 2016. He warned against inaction with a new campaign underway.

‘We cannot wait for the election,’ he said. ‘ If we do not act to hold him in check, now, President Trump will almost certainly try again to solicit interference in the election for his personal political gain.’

Trump, attending a NATO meeting in London called the hearing a ‘joke’ and doubted many people would watch because it’s ‘boring.’

Once an outsider to the GOP, Trump now has Republicans’ unwavering support. They joined in his name-calling the Judiciary proceedings a ‘disgrace’ and unfair, the dredging up of unfounded allegations as part of an effort to undo the 2016 election and remove him from office.

‘You just don’t like the guy,’ said Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the panel. Trump rewarded some of his allies with politically valuable presidential tweets as the daylong hearing dragged into the evening.

Despite the intent of America’s Founding Fathers to create a durable system of legal checks and balances, impeachment is an admittedly political exercise. Thus Pelosi asked her still-new majority if they were willing to press onward, aware of still-uncertain electoral risks.

At the Democrats’ private morning meeting, support for the impeachment effort was vigorous, though voting to remove Trump could come hard for some lawmakers in regions where the president has substantial backing.

The Democratic lawmakers also delivered a standing ovation to Rep. Adam Schiff, whose 300-page Intelligence Committee report cataloged potential grounds for impeachment, overwhelmingly indicating they want to continue to press the inquiry rather than slow its advance or call a halt for fear of political costs in next year’s congressional elections. The meeting was described by people familiar with it, who were unauthorized to discuss it by name and were granted anonymity.

Meanwhile, Trump’s team fanned out across the Capitol with Vice President Mike Pence meeting with House Republicans and White House officials conferring with Senate Republicans to prepare for what could be the first presidential impeachment trial in a generation.

From left, Constitutional law experts, Harvard Law School professor Noah Feldman, Stanford Law School professor Pamela Karlan, University of North Carolina Law School professor Michael Gerhardt and George Washington University Law School professor Jonathan Turley

From left, Constitutional law experts, Harvard Law School professor Noah Feldman, Stanford Law School professor Pamela Karlan, University of North Carolina Law School professor Michael Gerhardt and George Washington University Law School professor Jonathan Turley

White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, who has declined for now to participate in the House proceedings, relayed Trump’s hope that the impeachment effort can be stopped in the House and there will be no need for a Senate trial, which seems unlikely.

White House officials and others said Trump is eager to have his say. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said, ‘He feels like he has had no opportunity to tell his side of the story.’

Trump lambastes the impeachment probe daily and proclaims his innocence of any wrongdoing at length, but he has declined to testify before House hearings or answer questions in writing.

At the heart of the inquiry is his July 25 phone call asking Ukraine to investigate rival Democrats including Joe Biden. Trump at the time was withholding $400 million in military aid from the ally, which faced an aggressive Russia on its border.

At Wednesday’s session, three legal experts called by Democrats said impeachment was merited.

Noah Feldman, a Harvard Law School professor, said he considered it clear that the president’s conduct met the definition of ‘high crimes and misdemeanors.’ Said Michael Gerhardt, a University of North Carolina law professor, ‘If what we’re talking about is not impeachable … then nothing is impeachable.’

Pamela Karlan, a Stanford Law School professor and former Obama administration Justice Department official, drew criticism for mentioning Trump’s teenage son, Barron, in a wordplay, violating an unwritten but firm Washington rule against dragging first family’s children into politics.

The only Republican witness, Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, dissented from the other legal experts. He said the Democrats were bringing a ‘slipshod impeachment’ case against the president, but he didn’t excuse Trump’s behavior.

‘It is not wrong because President Trump is right,’ Turley said. ‘A case for impeachment could be made, but it cannot be made on this record.’

New telephone records released with the House report deepened Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s known involvement in what investigators call the ‘scheme.’

Asked about that, Trump told reporters he doesn’t know why Giuliani was calling the White House Office of Management and Budget, which was withholding the military aid to Ukraine.

‘You have to ask him,’ Trump said. ‘Sounds like something that’s not so complicated. … No big deal.’

Based on two months of investigation sparked by a still-anonymous government whistleblower’s complaint, the Intelligence Committee’s Trump-Ukraine Impeachment Inquiry Report found that Trump ‘sought to undermine the integrity of the U.S. presidential election process and endangered U.S. national security.’ When Congress began investigating, it says, Trump obstructed the investigation like no other president in history.

Republicans defended the president in a 123-page rebuttal claiming Trump never intended to pressure Ukraine when he asked for investigations of Biden and his son.

Democrats once hoped to sway Republicans to consider Trump’s removal, but they are now facing an ever-hardening partisan split over the swift-moving proceedings that are dividing Congress and the country.

Trump says he was telling Ukraine’s president to help the COUNTRY when he asked him to ‘do us a favor’ by investigating Joe Biden

Donald Trump‘s efforts to push the Ukrainian president to investigate Joe Biden weren’t done for his own benefit, but for the nation’s the president said online after returning to the U.S. from a trip to London.

Trump offered the latest defense of his ‘perfect’ phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky about two hours after returning home from a trip that had the president clashing with European leaders just as the House Judiciary Committee held its first impeachment hearing on his fate.

President Donald Trump

President Donald Trump

Trump explained his position in two long tweets.  ‘When I said, in my phone call to the President of Ukraine, ‘I would like you to do US a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it.’ With the word ‘us’ I am referring to the United States, our Country,’ he wrote.

‘I then went on to say that … ‘I would like to have the Attorney General (of the United States) call you or your people…..’ This, based on what I have seen, is their big point – and it is no point at a all (except for a big win for me!).’

Trump concluded: ‘The Democrats should apologize to the American people!’

Trump’s July 25th phone call has become the center of a Democratic impeachment push. In it, he asked Zelensky to investigate Biden and contact Barr, who in addition to guiding the release of the Mueller report has named a federal prosecutor to probe alleged FBI misconduct in the Russia probe.

After Zelensky mentions anti-tank missiles he wants to fend off Russia, Trump says ‘I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it.’

He then mentions a conspiracy theory about the Democratic 2016 election server and the Crowdstrike security firm asks Zelensky to ‘get to the bottom of it.’ He then mentions a ‘very poor performance by a man named Robert Mueller, an incompetent performance, but they say a lot of it started with Ukraine.’ He said it was ‘very important’ that Zelensky do it.

He also asks Zelensky to contact his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, brings up Hunter Biden’s son, and calls the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine ‘bad news.’

Trump’s defense of his call came as a trio of legal scholars called by Democrats blasted his conduct as a clear breach of the Constitution.

They all argued for impeachment in their opening statements before the panel.

‘I just want to stress, that if this – if what we’re talking about is not impeachable, than nothing is impeachable,’ said Michael Gerhardt, a law professor at the University of North Carolina.

‘This is precisely the misconduct that the framers created a constitution – including impeachment – to protect against,’ he said. ‘If Congress concludes that they’re going to give a pass to the president here… every other president will say, ‘Ok, then I can do the same thing.’

Stanford law professor Pamela Karlan told lawmakers the most ‘chilling’ line in testimony she reviewed came from ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland who said he had never heard that the Ukrainians needed to go through with the investigations, just announce them publicly.

‘This was about injuring someone who the president thinks of as a particularly hard opponent,’ she said in reference to Joe Biden.

Karlan said of the Founders: ‘The very idea that a president might seek the aid of a foreign government in his reelection campaign would have horrified them. But based on the evidentiary record, that is what President Trump has done,’ she said.

But the Republican witness, George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, said he did not think there was any way Trump’s conduct rose to the level of impeachment.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s full press statement on articles of impeachment on President Trump

Good morning.

Let us begin where our Founders began in 1776: ‘When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another…’

With those words, our Founders courageously began our Declaration of Independence from an oppressive monarch, for, among other grievances, the King’s refusal to follow rightfully-passed laws.

In the course of today’s events, it becomes necessary for us to address, among other grievances, the President’s failure to faithfully execute the law.

When crafting the Constitution, the Founders feared the return of a monarchy in America. And, having just fought a war of independence, they specifically feared the prospect of a king president corrupted by foreign influence.

During the Constitutional Convention, James Madison – the architect of the Constitution – warned that a President might ‘betray his trust to foreign powers… which might prove fatal to the republic.’

Another Founder, Gouverneur Morris, feared that a president ‘may be bribed by a greater interest to betray his trust.’ He emphasized that, ‘This Magistrate is not the King…The people are the King.’

They therefore created a constitutional remedy to protect against a dangerous or corrupt leader: impeachment.

Unless the Constitution contained an impeachment provision, one Founder warned, a president might ‘spare no efforts or means whatever to get himself re-elected.’

Similarly, George Mason insisted that a president who ‘procured his appointment in the first instance’ through improper and corrupt acts might ‘repeat his guilt’ and return to power.

During the debate over impeachment at the Constitutional Convention, George Mason asked: ‘Shall any man be above justice? Shall that man be above it who can commit the most extensive injustice?’

In his great wisdom, he knew that injustice committed by the President erodes the rule of law – the very idea that – of fair justice, which is the bedrock of our democracy.

And if we allow a president to be above the law, we do so surely at the peril of our republic.

In America, no one is above the law.

Over the past few weeks, through the Intelligence Committee working with the Foreign Affairs and Oversight Committees, the American people have heard the testimony of truly patriotic career public servants, distinguished diplomats and decorated war heroes: some of the President’s own appointees.

The facts are uncontested: the President abused his power for his own personal, political benefit at the expense of our national security, by withholding military aid and a crucial Oval Office meeting in exchange for an announcement of an investigation into his political rival.

Yesterday, the Judiciary Committee – at the Judiciary Committee, the American people heard testimony from leading American constitutional scholars who illuminated, without a doubt, that the President’s actions are a profound violation of the public trust.

The President’s actions have seriously violated the Constitution – especially when he says and acts upon the belief, ‘Article II says, I can do whatever I want.’

No. His wrongdoing strikes at the very heart of our Constitution: a separation of powers, three co-equal branches, each a check and balance on the other; ‘a Republic, if we can keep it,’ said Benjamin Franklin.

Our Democracy is what is at stake. The President leaves us no choice but to act, because he is trying to corrupt, once again, the election for his own benefit.

The President has engaged in abuse of power undermining our national security and jeopardizing the integrity of our elections.

His actions are in defiance of the vision of our Founders and the oath of office that he takes ‘to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.’

Sadly, but with confidence and humility, with allegiance to our Founders and our hearts full of love for America, today, I am asking our Chairmen to proceed with articles of impeachment.

I commend our Committee Chairs and our Members for their somber approach to actions which I wish the President had not made necessary.

In signing the Declaration of Independence, our Founders invoked a firm reliance on divine providence.

Democrats too are prayerful.

And we will proceed in a manner worthy of our oath of office to support and defend the Constitution of the United States from all enemies foreign and domestic, so help us God.

Thank you.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7759555/Speaker-Nancy-Pelosi-reveal-latest-play-break-neck-impeachment-strategy.html

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Trump’s Twofer — Death To Radical Extremist Jihadist Terrorists and Warlords Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis — Death To Tyrants — Supreme Leader Next — Attacking United States Embassy Is An Attack On United States Territory — Another One Bites The Dust — We Will Rock You — Videos

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Queen – Another One Bites the Dust (Official Video)

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Pepsi Commercial HD – We Will Rock You (feat. Britney Spears, Beyonce, Pink & Enrique Iglesias)

We Will Rock You

Queen

""

[Verse 1]
Buddy, you’re a boy, make a big noise
Playing in the street, gonna be a big man someday

You got mud on your face, you big disgrace
Kicking your can all over the place, singing

[Chorus]
We will, we will rock you
We will, we will rock you

[Verse 2]
Buddy, you’re a young man, hard man
Shouting in the street, gonna take on the world someday

You got blood on your face, you big disgrace
Waving your banner all over the place

[Chorus]
We will, we will rock you
Sing it out
We will, we will rock you

[Verse 3]
Buddy, you’re an old man, poor man
Pleading with your eyes, gonna make you some peace someday

You got mud on your face, big disgrace
Somebody better put you back into your place

[Chorus]
We will, we will rock you, sing it
We will, we will rock you, everybody
We will, we will rock you, hmm
We will, we will rock you, alright

 

Queen – We Will Rock You (Official Video)

 

How Qassem Soleimani was ‘torn to shreds’ by a US missile and his body had to be identified by his RING: Pentagon drone launched four rockets at car carrying Iranian general after he arrived from Syria to meet ringleaders of embassy attack

  • US airstrike killed General Qassem Soleimani, the powerful head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, in Baghdad
  • The attack unfolded early on Friday local time in a precision strike on two cars that were carrying Soleimani 
  • Soleimani had just arrived in Baghdad on a flight from Syria and was leaving the airport when he was hit
  • Attack also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, leader of Iranian militias in Iraq which led attacks on US embassy

Four precision missiles were fired from a deadly remote-controlled 4,900 pound U.S. drone, decimating a convoy that Qassem Soleimani, head of Iran’s Quds force, was traveling in and tearing his body ‘to shreds’.

Soleimani, commonly known as the second-most powerful man in Iran and tipped as a future president, was so badly maimed in the strike that he had to be identified by a large ring he wore on his finger.

He had just landed in Baghdad airport on a plane from either Syria or Lebanon around 12.30am when he was met on the tarmac by Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of the pro-Iran Popular Mobilization Forces in Iraq.

Muhandis pulled up to the aircraft steps in two cars before Soleimani and Mohammed Ridha Jabri, public relations chief for the PMF who had been traveling with him, climbed inside and were driven away.

Both vehicles were instantly reduced to smoldering wrecks – killing Soleimani, Muhandis, Jabri and two others who have yet to be identified.

Social media photos show burning wreckage of the US airstrike on two cars at Baghdad International Airport. Iranian officials and pro-Iran militia members were among those killed

This is the moment an American guided missile struck a convoy of cars carrying Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani along with two Islamic Revolutionary Guards generals, a colonel, and a captain, killing all five

The devastating US drone has a range of 1,150 miles and is able to to fly at altitudes of 50,000 feet. It is an ‘armed, multi-mission, medium-altitude, long-endurance’ remotely piloted aircraft.

It is primarily used to execute targets – such as Soleimani – and secondarily to collect intelligence, according to the U.S. Air Force.

The drone is capable of annihilating targets with AGM-114 Hellfire missiles which provide ‘highly accurate’ and ‘low-collateral damage’ capabilities.

An MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft making a rare public sighting in Nevada in November

AGM-114 Hellfire missiles – which are laser guided and subsonic – are so powerful that they are used to take out tanks. They can also be used as an air-to-air weapon against helicopters and other aircraft.

Fired upon Soleimani’s convoy, the 4,900-pound drone- which has a wingspan of 66 feet and a cruising speed of roughly 230mph – is said to have reduced two vehicles to smoldering wrecks and ‘torn to shreds’ the bodies of those inside.

The drone made a rare public sighting at Nellis Air Force Base in southern Nevada in November. The Aviationist reports that it was ‘nearly silent’ and ‘sent a collective shiver up air show viewers’ spines’.

Two officials from the PMF said Soleimani’s body was torn to pieces in the attack, while they did not find the body of al-Muhandis.

A senior politician said Soleimani’s body was identified by the ring he wore. Photos from the scene show a hand with large ring that looks identical to one Soleimani is seen wearing in old photos.

Local militia commander Abu Muntathar al-Hussaini told Reuters:

‘Haj Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis were riding in one vehicle when it was struck by two successive guided missiles launched from an American helicopter while they were on their way from the arrivals hall on the road that leads out of Baghdad Airport.’

He said the second vehicle was carrying bodyguards from the PMF and was hit by one rocket.

While American forces did not make it clear how they had tracked Soleimani’s location, he is thought to be kept under near-constant surveillance by US, Saudi and Israeli security forces.

The New York Times reported that Friday’s attack drew upon a combination of highly classified information from informants, electronic intercepts, reconnaissance aircraft and other surveillance techniques.

The Defense Department said that the airstrike was justified to protect American lives.

‘General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region,’ the Pentagon statement said.

The statement added that Soleimani ‘orchestrated attacks on coalition bases in Iraq over the last several months’ including the embassy assault.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Soleimani’s assassination would strengthen resistance against the United States and Israel in the region and the world, Iranian state television reported.

‘The brutality and stupidity of American terrorist forces in assassinating Commander Soleimani … will undoubtedly make the tree of resistance in the region and the world more prosperous,’ Zarif said in a statement.

The high-profile assassinations are likely to be a massive blow to Iran, which has been locked in a long conflict with the United States that escalated sharply last week with an attack on the US embassy in Iraq by pro-Iranian militiamen.

A senior politician said Soleimani's body was identified by the ring (above) he often wore

The strike also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis (center in sunglasses), the deputy commander of Iran-backed militias in Iraq known as the Popular Mobilization Forces, which were responsible for the recent attack on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad

Soleimani’s killing marks a dramatic escalation in the regional ‘shadow war’ between Iran and the US and its allies, principally Israel and Saudi Arabia, which could quickly ratchet up tit-for-tat attacks – all the way to the brink of all-out war.

The slain commander’s Quds Force, along with its stable of paramilitary proxies from Lebanon’s Hezbollah to the PMF in Iraq – battle-hardened militias armed with missiles – has ample means to launch a multi-barrelled response against its enemies.

In September, US officials blamed Iran for a devastating missiles and drones attack on oil installations of Saudi Aramco, the Saudi state energy giant and world’s largest oil exporter. The Trump administration did not respond, beyond heated rhetoric and threats.

Iran, for its part, has absorbed scores of air strikes and missile attacks, mainly carried out by Israel against its fighters and proxies in Syria and Iraq.

But analysts say Iran is likely to respond forcefully to the targeting of Soleimani, who it has built into a legend as its influence has spread across the region in the wake of the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and subsequent occupation.

This photo released by the Iraqi Prime Minister Press Office shows a burning vehicle at the Baghdad International Airport following an airstrike, in Baghdad, Iraq, early Friday, Jan. 3, 2020

This photo released by the Iraqi Prime Minister Press Office shows a burning vehicle at the Baghdad International Airport following an airstrike, in Baghdad, Iraq, early Friday, Jan. 3, 2020

The Pentagon said Thursday that the U.S. military has killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran's elite Quds Force

The Pentagon said Thursday that the U.S. military has killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force

Images taken after sunup on Friday show the twisted wreckage left behind by the US missile strike on two cars

 

Images taken after sunup on Friday show the twisted wreckage left behind by the US missile strike on two cars

PMF official said the dead also included its airport protocol officer, identifying him as Mohammed Reda (above)

Soleimani, who has led the foreign arm of the Revolutionary Guards and has had a key role in fighting in Syria and Iraq, acquired celebrity status at home and abroad.

The United States and Iran’s regional foes Saudi Arabia and Israel have struggled to keep Iran’s influence in check.

Soleimani survived several assassination attempts against him by Western, Israeli and Arab agencies over the past two decades.

His Quds Force, tasked with carrying out operations beyond Iran’s borders, shored up support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad when he looked close to defeat in the civil war raging since 2011 and also helped militiamen defeat Islamic State in Iraq.

He became head of the Quds Force in 1998, a position in which he kept a low profile for years while he strengthened Iran’s ties with Hezbollah in Lebanon, Syria’s government and Shi´ite militia groups in Iraq.

Muhandis, who was killed with Soleimani, oversaw Iraq´s PMF, an umbrella grouping of paramilitary groups mostly consisting of Iran-backed Shi´ite militias that was formally integrated into Iraqi armed forces.

Soleimani (right) is seen attending a religious ceremony with Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in a file photo. Soleimani was immensely popular in Iran and the Ayatollah has vowed 'harsh revenge'

Soleimani (right) is seen attending a religious ceremony with Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in a file photo. Soleimani was immensely popular in Iran and the Ayatollah has vowed ‘harsh revenge’

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7847795/How-airstrike-Iranian-general-unfolded-Baghdad.html

Qasem Soleimani

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Qasem Soleimani
Qasem Soleimani with Zolfaghar Order.jpg

Soleimani in his official military dress with the Order of Zolfaghar in 2019
Native name
قاسم سلیمانی
Nickname(s) Haj Qassem” (among supporters)[1]
“The Shadow Commander” (in the West)[2][3][4][5][6]
Born 11 March 1957
Qanat-e MalekKermanImperial State of Iran
Died 3 January 2020 (aged 62)[7]
Near Baghdad International AirportBaghdadIraq
Allegiance Iran
Service/branch Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps
Years of service 1979–2020
Rank Major general
Lieutenant general (posthumously)
Commands held 41st Tharallah Division of Kerman
Quds Force
Battles/wars

See battles
Awards Order of Zolfaghar (1)[17]
Order of Fath (3)[18]

Qasem Soleimani (Persianقاسم سلیمانی‎, pronounced [ɢɒːseme solejmɒːniː]; 11 March 1957 – 3 January 2020), also spelled Qassem Suleimani or Qassim Soleimani, was an Iranian major general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and from 1998 until his death, commander of its Quds Force, a division primarily responsible for extraterritorial military and clandestine operations.

Soleimani began his military career in the beginning of the Iran–Iraq War of the 1980s, during which he eventually commanded the 41st Division. He was later involved in extraterritorial operations, providing military assistance to Hezbollah in Lebanon. In 2012, Soleimani helped bolster the Syrian government, a key Iranian ally, during the Syrian Civil War, particularly in its operations against ISIS and its offshoots. Soleimani also assisted in the command of combined Iraqi government and Shia militia forces that advanced against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in 2014–2015.

Soleimani was killed in a targeted U.S. drone strike on 3 January 2020 in Baghdad, Iraq. Also killed were Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces members and its deputy head, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.[19] Soleimani was posthumously promoted to lieutenant general.[20] Soleimani was suceeded by Esmail Ghaani as commander of the Quds Force.[21]

Early life

Soleimani was born on 11 March 1957 in the village of Qanat-e MalekKerman Province,[22] to an impoverished peasant family. In his youth, he moved to the city of Kerman and worked as a construction worker to help repay a debt his father owed. In 1975, he began working as a contractor for the Kerman Water Organization.[23][24] When not at work, he spent his time lifting weights in local gyms and attending the sermons of a traveling preacher, Hojjat Kamyab, a protege of Ayatollah Khomeini.[25]

Military career

Soleimani joined the Revolutionary war Guard (IRGC) in 1979 following the Iranian Revolution, which saw the Shah fall and Ayatollah Khomeini take power. Reportedly, his training was minimal, but he advanced rapidly. Early in his career as a guardsman, he was stationed in northwestern Iran, and participated in the suppression of a Kurdish separatist uprising in West Azerbaijan Province.[25]

On 22 September 1980, when Saddam Hussein launched an invasion of Iran, setting off the Iran–Iraq War (1980–1988), Soleimani joined the battlefield serving as the leader of a military company, consisting of men from Kerman whom he personally assembled and trained.[26] He quickly earned a reputation for bravery,[27] and rose through the ranks because of his role in the successful operations in retaking the lands Iraq had occupied, eventually becoming the commander of the 41st Sarallah Division while still in his 20s, participating in most major operations. He was mostly stationed at the southern front.[26][28] He was seriously injured in Operation Tariq-ol-Qods. In a 1990 interview, he mentioned Operation Fath-ol-Mobin as “the best” operation he participated in and “very memorable”, due to its difficulties yet positive outcome.[29] He was also engaged in leading and organizing irregular warfare missions deep inside Iraq carried out by the Ramadan Headquarters. It was at this point that Suleimani established relations with Kurdish Iraqi leaders and the Shia Badr Organization, both of which were opposed to Iraq’s Saddam Hussein.[26]

On 17 July 1985, Soleimani opposed the IRGC leadership’s plan to deploy forces to two islands in western Arvandroud (Shatt al-Arab).[30]

After the war, during the 1990s, he was an IRGC commander in Kerman Province.[28] In this region, which is relatively close to Afghanistan, Afghan-grown opium travels to Turkey and on to Europe. Soleimani’s military experience helped him earn a reputation as a successful fighter against drug trafficking.[25]

During the 1999 student revolt in Tehran, Soleimani was one of the IRGC officers who signed a letter to President Mohammad Khatami. The letter stated that if Khatami did not crush the student rebellion the military would, and it might also launch a coup against Khatami.[25][31]

Command of Quds Force

Qasem Soleimani Reading Quran in Memorial ceremony of Akbar Hashemi

The exact date of his appointment as commander of the IRGC’s Quds Force is not clear, but Ali Alfoneh cites it as between 10 September 1997 and 21 March 1998.[24] He was considered one of the possible successors to the post of commander of the IRGC, when General Yahya Rahim Safavi left this post in 2007. In 2008, he led a group of Iranian investigators looking into the death of Imad Mughniyah. Soleimani helped arrange a ceasefire between the Iraqi Army and Mahdi Army in March 2008.[32]

Following the September 11 attacks in 2001, Ryan Crocker, a senior State Department official in the United States, flew to Geneva to meet with Iranian diplomats who were under the direction of Soleimani with the purpose of collaborating to destroy the Taliban, which had targeted Shia Afghanis.[25] This collaboration was instrumental in defining the targets of bombing operations in Afghanistan and in capturing key Al-Qaeda operatives, but abruptly ended in January 2002, when President George W. Bush named Iran as part of the “Axis of evil” in his State of the Union address.[25]

In 2009, a leaked report stated that General Soleimani met Christopher R. Hill and General Raymond T. Odierno (America’s two most senior officials in Baghdad at the time) in the office of Iraq’s president, Jalal Talabani (who knew General Soleimani for decades). Hill and General Odierno denied the occurrence of the meeting.[33]

On 24 January 2011, Soleimani was promoted to Major General by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.[28][34] Khamenei was described as having a close relationship with him, calling Soleimani a “living martyr” and helping him financially.[25]

Soleimani was described as “the single most powerful operative in the Middle East today” and the principal military strategist and tactician in Iran’s effort to combat Western influence and promote the expansion of Shiite and Iranian influence throughout the Middle East.[25] In Iraq, as the commander of the Quds force, he was believed to have strongly influenced the organization of the Iraqi government, notably supporting the election of previous Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki.[25][35] Soleimani has even been described as being “Iran’s very own Erwin Rommel“.[36]

According to some sources, Soleimani was the principal leader and architect of the military wing of the Lebanese Shia party Hezbollah since his appointment as Quds commander in 1998.[25] In an interview aired in October 2019, he said he was in Lebanon during the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war to oversee the conflict.[37]

Syrian Civil War

A map of Al-Qusayr and its environs. The Al-Qusayr offensive was allegedly masterminded by Soleimani[38]

According to several sources, including Riad Hijab, a former Syrian premier who defected in August 2012, he was also one of the staunchest supporters of the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian Civil War.[25][35] In the later half of 2012, Soleimani assumed personal control of the Iranian intervention in the Syrian Civil War, when Iranians became deeply concerned about the Assad government’s lack of ability to fight the opposition, and the fallout to the Islamic Republic if the Syrian government fell. He was reported to have coordinated the war from a base in Damascus at which a Lebanese Hezbollah commander and an Iraqi Shiite militia coordinator have been mobilized, in addition to Syrian and Iranian officers. Brigadier General Hossein Hamadani, the Basij’s former deputy commander, helped to run irregular militias that Soleimani hoped to continue the fight if Assad fell.[25] Under Soleimani the command “coordinated attacks, trained militias, and set up an elaborate system to monitor rebel communications”. According to a Middle Eastern security official Dexter Filkins talked to, thousands of Quds Force and Iraqi Shiite militiamen in Syria were “spread out across the entire country.”[25] The retaking of Qusayr in May 2013 from rebel forces and Al-Nusra Front[39] was, according to John Maguire, a former CIA officer in Iraq, “orchestrated” by Soleimani.[25]

Soleimani was much credited in Syria for the strategy that assisted President Bashar al-Assad in finally repulsing rebel forces and recapture key cities and towns.[40] He was involved in the training of government-allied militias and the coordination of decisive military offensives.[25] The sighting of Iranian UAVs in Syria strongly suggested that his command, the Quds force, was involved in the civil war.[25] In a visit to the Lebanese capital Beirut on Thursday 29 January 2015, Soleimani laid wreaths at the graves of the slain Hezbollah members, including Jihad Mughniyah, the son of late Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyah which strengthens some possibilities about his role in Hezbollah military reaction on Israel.[41]

Soleimani helped form of the National Defence Forces (NDF) in Syria.[42]

In October 2015, it was reported that he had been instrumental in devising during his visit to Moscow in July 2015 the Russian–Iranian–Syrian offensive in October 2015.[43]

War on ISIS in Iraq

The east of Saladin Governorate in Iraq, where Qasem Soleimani was involved in breaking the Siege of Amirli by ISIL[44]

Qasem Soleimani was in the Iraqi city of Amirli, to work with the Iraqi forces to push back militants from ISIL.[45][46] According to the Los Angeles Times, which reported that Amerli was the first town to successfully withstand an ISIS invasion, it was secured thanks to “an unusual partnership of Iraqi and Kurdish soldiers, Iranian-backed Shiite militias and U.S. warplanes”. The US acted as a force multiplier for a number of Iranian-backed armed groups—at the same time that was present on the battlefield.[47][48]

Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani prays in the Syrian desert during a local pro-government offensive in 2017.

A senior Iraqi official told the BBC that when the city of Mosul fell, the rapid reaction of Iran, rather than American bombing, was what prevented a more widespread collapse.[10] Qasem Soleimani also seems to have been instrumental in planning the operation to relieve Amirli in Saladin Governorate, where ISIL had laid siege to an important city.[44] In fact the Quds force operatives under Soleimani’s command seem to have been deeply involved with not only the Iraqi army and Shi’ite militias but also the Kurdish in the battle of Amirli,[49] not only providing liaisons for intelligence sharing but also the supply of arms and munitions in addition to “providing expertise”.[50]

In the operation to liberate Jurf Al Sakhar, he was reportedly “present on the battlefield”. Some Shia militia commanders described Soleimani as “fearless”—one pointing out that the Iranian general never wears a flak jacket, even on the front lines.[51]

Soleimani was also intimately involved in the planning and execution of the operation to liberate Tikrit[52][53]

Hadi al-Amiri, the former Iraqi minister of transportation and the head of the Badr Organization [an official Iraqi political party whose military wing is one of the largest armed forces in the country] highlighted the pivotal role of General Qasem Soleimani in defending Iraq’s Kurdistan Region against the ISIL terrorist group, maintaining that if it were not for Iran, Heidar al-Ebadi’s government would have been a government-in-exile right now[54] and he added there would be no Iraq if Gen. Soleimani hadn’t helped us.[55]

There were reports by some Western sources that Soleimani was seriously wounded in action against ISIL in Samarra. The claim was rejected by Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.[56]

Soleimani played an integral role in the organisation and planning of the crucial operation to retake the city of Tikrit in Iraq from ISIS. The city of Tikrit rests on the left bank of the Tigris river and is the largest and most important city between Baghdad and Mosul, gifting it a high strategic value. The city fell to ISIS during 2014 when ISIS made immense gains in northern and central Iraq. After its capture, ISIL’s massacre at Camp Speicher led to 1,600 to 1,700 deaths of Iraqi Army cadets and soldiers. After months of careful preparation and intelligence gathering an offensive to encircle and capture Tikrit was launched in early March 2015.[53] Soleimani was directing the operations on the eastern flank from a village about 35 miles from Tikrit called Albu Rayash, captured over the weekend.[citation needed] The offensive was the biggest military operation in the Salahuddin region since the previous summer, when ISIS fighters killed hundreds of Iraq army soldiers who had abandoned their military base at Camp Speicher outside Tikrit.[citation needed]

Orchestration of military escalation in 2015

In 2015 Soleimani started to gather support from various sources in order to combat the newly resurgent ISIL and rebel groups which were both successful in taking large swathes of territory away from Assad’s forces. He was reportedly the main architect of the joint intervention involving Russia as a new partner with Assad and Hezbollah.[57][58][59]

According to Reuters, at a meeting in Moscow in July, Soleimani unfurled a map of Syria to explain to his Russian hosts how a series of defeats for President Bashar al-Assad could be turned into victory—with Russia’s help. Qasem Soleimani’s visit to Moscow was the first step in planning for a Russian military intervention that has reshaped the Syrian war and forged a new Iranian–Russian alliance in support of the Syrian (and Iraqi) governments. Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei also sent a senior envoy to Moscow to meet President Vladimir Putin. “Putin reportedly told the envoy ‘Okay we will intervene. Send Qassem Soleimani’. General Soleimani went to explain the map of the theatre and coordinate the strategic escalation of military forces in Syria.[58]

Operations in Aleppo

Map of the offensive.[60][61][62][63][64][65]

Soleimani had a decisive impact on the theatre of operations and led to a strong advance in southern Aleppo with the government and allied forces re-capturing two military bases and dozens of towns and villages in a matter of weeks. There was also a series of major advances towards Kuweiris air-base to the north-east.[66] By mid-November, the Syrian army and its allies had gained ground in southern areas of Aleppo Governorate, capturing numerous rebel strongholds. Soleimani was reported to have personally led the drive deep into the southern Aleppo countryside where many towns and villages fell into government hands. He reportedly commanded the Syrian Arab Army’s 4th Mechanized Division, Hezbollah, Harakat Al-Nujaba (Iraqi), Kata’ib Hezbollah (Iraqi), Liwaa Abu Fadl Al-Abbas (Iraqi), and Firqa Fatayyemoun (Afghan/Iranian volunteers).[67]

Soleimani was lightly wounded while fighting in Syria, outside of Al-Eis. Reports initially speculated that he was seriously or gravely injured.[68] He was quoted as saying, “Martyrdom is what I seek in mountains and valleys, but it isn’t granted yet”.[69]

In early February 2016, backed by Russian and Syrian air force airstrikes, the 4th Mechanized Division – in close coordination with Hezbollah, the National Defense Forces (NDF), Kata’eb Hezbollah, and Harakat Al-Nujaba – launched an offensive in Aleppo Governorate’s northern countryside,[70] which eventually broke the three-year siege of Nubl and Al-Zahraa and cut off rebel’s main supply route from Turkey. According to a senior, non-Syrian security source close to Damascus, Iranian fighters played a crucial role in the conflict. “Qassem Soleimani is there in the same area”, he said.[71] In December 2016, new photos emerged of Soleimani at the Citadel of Aleppo, though the exact date of the photos is unknown.[72][73]

Operations in 2016 and 2017

In 2016, photos published by a Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) source showed Iran’s Quds Force commander Qassem Suleimani and other PMF commanders discussing the Battle of Fallujah.[74]

In late March 2017, Soleimani was seen in the northern Hama Governorate countryside, reportedly aiding Maj. Gen. Suheil al-Hassan in repelling a major rebel offensive.[16]

CIA chief Mike Pompeo said that he sent Soleimani and other Iranian leaders a letter holding them responsible for any attacks on US interests by forces under their control. According to Mohammad Mohammadi Golpayegani, a senior aide for Iran’s supreme leader, Soleimani ignored the letter when it was handed over to him during the Abu Kamal offensive against ISIL, saying “I will not take your letter nor read it and I have nothing to say to these people.”[75][76]

In politics

General Soleimani in civilian attire during a public ceremony in 2015

In 1999, Soleimani, along with other senior IRGC commanders, signed a letter to then-President Mohammad Khatami regarding the student protests in July. They wrote “Dear Mr. Khatami, how long do we have to shed tears, sorrow over the events, practice democracy by chaos and insults, and have revolutionary patience at the expense of sabotaging the system? Dear president, if you don’t make a revolutionary decision and act according to your Islamic and national missions, tomorrow will be so late and irrecoverable that cannot be even imagined.”[77]

Iranian media reported in 2012 that he might be replaced as the commander of Quds Force in order to allow him to run in the 2013 presidential election.[78] He reportedly refused to be nominated for the election.[77] According to BBC News, in 2015 a campaign started among conservative bloggers for Soleimani to stand for 2017 presidential election.[79] In 2016, he was speculated as a possible candidate,[77][80] however in a statement published on 15 September 2016, he called speculations about his candidacy as “divisive reports by the enemies” and said he will “always remain a simple soldier serving Iran and the Islamic Revolution”.[81]

In the summer of 2018, Soleimani and Tehran exchanged public remarks related to Red Sea shipping with American President Donald Trump which heightened tensions between the two countries and their allies in the region.[82]

Personal life

Qasem Soleimani while Praying

Soleimani was a Persian from Kerman. His father was a farmer who died in 2017. His mother, Fatemeh, died in 2013.[83] He came from a family of nine and had five sisters and one brother, Sohrab, who lived and worked with Soleimani in his youth.[84] Sohrab Soleimani is a warden and former director general of the Tehran Prisons Organization. The United States imposed sanctions on Sohrab Soleimani in April 2017 “for his role in abuses in Iranian prisons”.[85]

Soleimani had Dan in karate and was a fitness trainer in his youth. He had four children: two sons and two daughters.[86]

Sanctions

In March 2007, Soleimani was included on a list of Iranian individuals targeted with sanctions in United Nations Security Council Resolution 1747.[87] On 18 May 2011, he was sanctioned again by the United States along with Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and other senior Syrian officials due to his alleged involvement in providing material support to the Syrian government.[88]

On 24 June 2011, the Official Journal of the European Union said the three Iranian Revolutionary Guard members now subject to sanctions had been “providing equipment and support to help the Syrian government suppress protests in Syria”.[89] The Iranians added to the EU sanctions list were two Revolutionary Guard commanders, Soleimani, Mohammad Ali Jafari, and the Guard’s deputy commander for intelligence, Hossein Taeb.[90] Soleimani was also sanctioned by the Swiss government in September 2011 due to the same grounds cited by the European Union.[91]

He was listed by the United States as a known terrorist, which forbade U.S. citizens from doing business with him.[32][92] The list, published in the EU’s Official Journal on 24 June 2011, also included a Syrian property firm, an investment fund and two other enterprises accused of funding the Syrian government. The list also included Mohammad Ali Jafari and Hossein Taeb.[93]

On 13 November 2018, the United States sanctioned an Iraqi military leader named Shibl Muhsin ‘Ubayd Al-Zaydi and others who allegedly were acting on Qasem Soleimani’s behalf in financing military actions in Syria or otherwise providing support for terrorism in the region.[94]

Death

Qasem Soleimani (left) with Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis (right) at a 2017 ceremony commemorating the father of Soleimani, in Mosalla, Tehran.

Soleimani was killed on 3 January 2020 around 1 am local time (22:00 UTC on 2 January)[95], after missiles shot from American drones targeted his convoy near Baghdad International Airport.[96] He had just left his plane, which arrived in Iraq from Lebanon or Syria.[97] His body was identified using a ring he wore on his finger, with DNA confirmation still pending.[98] Also killed were four members of the Popular Mobilization Forces, including Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the Iraqi-Iranian military commander who headed the PMF.[99]

The airstrike followed attacks on the American embassy in Baghdad by supporters of an Iran-backed Iraqi Shia militia and the 2019 K-1 Air Base attack.[100]

The United States Department of Defense issued a statement that said the U.S. strike was carried out “at the direction of the President” and asserted that Soleimani had been planning further attacks on American diplomats and military personnel and had approved the attacks on the American embassy in Baghdad in response to U.S. airstrikes in Iraq and Syria on 29 December 2019 and was meant to deter future attacks.[101][102]

Soleimani was posthumously promoted to lieutenant general.[103][20] He was suceeded by Esmail Ghaani as commander of the Quds Force.[21]

Cultural depictions

He was described as having “a calm presence”,[104] and as carrying himself “inconspicuously and rarely rais[ing] his voice”, exhibiting “understated charisma“.[27] In Western sources, Suleimani’s personality was compared to the fictional characters KarlaKeyser Söze,[27] and The Scarlet Pimpernel.[105]

Unlike other IRGC commanders, he usually did not appear in his official military clothing, even in the battlefield.[106][107]

In January 2015, Hadi Al-Ameri the head of the Badr Organization in Iraq said of him: “If Qasem Soleimani were not present in Iraq, Haider al-Abadi would not be able to form his cabinet within Iraq”.[108]

The British magazine The Week featured Soleimani in bed with Uncle Sam in 2015, which indicated to both sides fighting ISIS, although Soleimani was leading militant groups that killed hundreds of Americans during the Iraq War.[109]

The 2016 movie Bodyguard, directed by Ebrahim Hatamikia, was inspired by Soleimani’s activities.[110]

The 2016 Persian book Noble Comrades 17: Hajj Qassem, written by Ali Akbari Mozdabadi, contains memoirs of Qassem Soleimani.[111]

See also

References …

External links

How Trump decided to kill Iran’s Soleimani

The U.S. strike against Tehran’s feared paramilitary commander followed months of Iranian attacks.

Qassem Soleimani

Hours before the U.S. military sent a Reaper drone to kill one of the most wanted men on the planet, President Donald Trump was relaxing at his palatial Florida properties. In the morning, he played 18 holes at Trump International, his West Palm Beach golf club.

At around 3 p.m., he returned to Mar-a-Lago, the historic oceanfront estate he’s branded “the Winter White House,” and waited, donning a navy blue suit with a powder-blue tie and an American flag pinned to his lapel.

He’d already made a risky—and potentially world-altering—decision to allow the U.S. military to kill Qassem Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s elite paramilitary forces. Earlier this week, he’d been surrounded at Mar-a-Lago by top officials like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, national security adviser Robert O’Brien and Legislative Affairs Director Eric Ueland. Throughout the entire week, Trump sought input from other advisers by phone.

“He was calm, cool and collected,” said conservative radio host Howie Carr, who spoke with Trump on Thursday at Mar-a-Lago soon after the news first broke, as the president dined with GOP House leader Kevin McCarthy. “I had no idea there was anything out of the ordinary going on until I got home.”

As rocket attacks against U.S. bases in Iraq intensified over the last two months, the president had granted the Pentagon extraordinary latitude: The U.S. military had his permission to kill Soleimani the next time it had an opportunity to do so, according to a senior defense official who was not authorized to speak on the record.

“We had authority before the strike to take that action,” said the official, who wouldn’t say how recently Trump gave the Pentagon that authorization—whether it was hours, weeks or even months earlier. As recently as New Year’s Eve, the president was telling reporters that he didn’t want war with Iran.

For a man U.S. officials have portrayed as a terrorist mastermind, an evil genius responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans, Soleimani often flaunted his influence as he jetted between Tehran, Baghdad and Beirut for meetings with local potentates.

“I don’t think it was so hard [to find him] because he was not below the radar in the last two or three years,” said a former senior Israeli government official, who noted that Soleimani had previously moved around under strict operational secrecy. “But the last two or three years, he worked in the open.”

Former national security adviser John Bolton, a vocal advocate of regime change in Iran, described the killing of Soleimani as “long in the making.”

“We’ve known every minute of every day where Soleimani is for years—there’s no moment of any given day where five or six intelligence agencies can’t tell you where he is,” a Republican foreign policy hand said. “It’s been one of his talking points: The Americans can find me any time, they just don’t dare hit me.”

That calculation proved misguided in the wee hours of January 3 in Iraq, where Soleimani landed amid spiraling tensions between U.S.- and Iranian-allied factions. “He arrived at the airport and we had a target of opportunity, and based on the president’s direction, we took it,” the senior defense official said.

U.S. officials had received “an intelligence-based assessment that drove our decision-making process,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday, describing how the recent killing of an American contractor had changed the Trump team’s calculations about the “intelligence flow” they were receiving about Soleimani’s activities in Iraq.

U.S. officials, briefing conservative think-tank experts on Friday, said the U.S. had “exquisite intelligence” on a plot to strike Americans in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, according to someone familiar with the call. By killing Soleimani, the officials said, they disrupted such plans.

A night of confusion and rumors

The first dispatches from Baghdad on Thursday evening were cryptic. “Several Katyusha rockets have been fired at Baghdad airport, causing multiple casualties amid tensions with US,” the AP alert read.

Then, suggestions that something major had just gone down began trickling in. Word that someone—presumably the United States—had just killed Iran’s pre-eminent strategist first posted online shortly before 7 p.m. in Washington.

As journalists scrambled to confirm and make sense of the rumors flying around, Iraqi state television announced that Soleimani, along with several of Iran’s top Iraqi allies, had been killed. A BBC reporter shared a grisly image purporting to show Soleimani’s mangled hand, complete with his signature ruby ring; other photographs claiming to be of the remains of the convoy he was traveling in circulated online.

Photographs taken around this time showed President Trump huddling with McCarthy and White House aides Jared Kushner, Hogan Gidley and Dan Scavino at Mar-a-Lago.

“A memorable and historic evening at The Winter White House. Proud of our President!” McCarthy posted later on his Instagram feed.

It wasn’t until 9:46 p.m. on Thursday that the U.S. government officially confirmed Soleimani’s death, in the form of a terse, 163-word Pentagon press release emailed to reporters.

“At the direction of the President, the U.S. military has taken decisive defensive action to protect U.S. personnel abroad by killing Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization,” the statement read.

But his television surrogates were quick to supply their inside accounts.

Dialing into Fox News from his vacation, conservative commentator Sean Hannity—a close Trump confidant—shared what he’d heard from “one person familiar that was in the room.”

“The president said, ‘Our people will be protected. This will not be Benghazi,’” Hannity relayed.

“At one point,” the Fox host continued, “the president asked the question among some of his military and Cabinet and intelligence and State Department people, ‘Well, how long is it going to take to mobilize?’ And the words [came back from the president], ‘That’s not fast enough,’ and everybody said, ‘Yes, sir.’ And they got it done in really record time.”

Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, another of the president’s close allies on Capitol Hill who was with him at Mar-a-Lago, described the president’s mood on Thursday evening as “very focused.”

“I think he was really dialed into the ways in which Soleimani was planning to kill Americans, to harm our diplomats and to throw the entire region into civil war,” Gaetz said on Fox News. “I think we understand that this is a big moment in time. He appreciates the gravity of that.”

The White House seems to have informed only its closest congressional allies ahead of the move, with top Hill Democrats complaining that they hadn’t been informed in advance.

“I was briefed about the potential operation when I was down in Florida,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who was with the president at Mar-a-Lago earlier this week, told Fox News on Friday morning. “I appreciate being brought into the orbit.”

Defense Secretary Mark Esper appeared to warn Iran of the coming strikes hours beforehand on Thursday, amid a discussion of the recent attacks on U.S. bases by Iraqi militias tied to Iran.

In what might have been a sign of preparation for the strike, Pompeo cancelled a trip to Ukraine and several other countries this week to monitor the tensions in Iraq.

State Department officials summoned the Iraqi ambassador to the U.S. for a meeting Thursday afternoon, according to a person familiar with the situation. It was not clear what exactly was discussed.

“I think it’s been in the works for a while because I don’t think it was a last-minute thing,” a Middle Eastern official said. “I don’t think they were like, ‘Oh we just found him, let’s take him out.’ I think it was to mitigate an action that was actually in the works.”

“Tracking Solemani was likely something that was being done from at least May, when the major stream of threats emerged,” a former defense official said.

Actually targeting Soleimani posed a more formidable challenge, though, according to retired Lt. Gen. Michael Nagata, a former senior special operations commander in the Middle East who retired as strategy head at the National Counterterrorism Center last summer. “That depends on being able to know not only where he is, but where he’s going to be at a specific time in the future,” Nagata said.

That, in part, was why “we never decided to go after him personally” before, Nagata said – especially in earlier years when Soleimani maintained a lower profile and traveled less often, the military was reluctant to devote surveillance assets to a target few believed any president would ever allow to be struck.

“Soleimani was the spider at the center of the web, so there were recurring conversations over the years about what it would take to do something about him,” Nagata explained. “But what you had to grapple with was, ‘This is going to divert time, energy and resources from other tasks, and for a mission that I have no confidence we’re going to go through with.’”

Consultation with Israel

Pompeo held several phone calls with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in recent weeks, suggesting that Israel was not surprised by the strike against Soleimani.

Before departing on Thursday morning for Greece, Netanyahu told reporters in Israel, “We are in continuous contact with our great friend the U.S., including my conversation yesterday afternoon. I want to make one thing clear: We fully support all of the steps that the U.S. has taken as well as its full right to defend itself and its citizens.”

By Friday morning, Pompeo was dialing up his counterparts in foreign capitals, including Moscow and Beijing, to stress that the strike was a “defensive action” and that the U.S. hopes for a de-escalation in the crisis.

Iranian officials were warning of a severe reaction, and the Parliament in Baghdad was voting to bar U.S. troops from Iraq even as U.S. officials were planning to send more forces to the region. European diplomats traded anxious phone calls, warning about the potential for further regional chaos.

And Trump himself was finally weighing in, explaining and justifying the decision with a barrage of tweets and retweets. “He should have been taken out many years ago!” the president wrote.

Asked about the U.S. plan for managing the potential blowback from Iran, a U.S. defense official said, “Your guess is as good as mine. The ball’s in Iran’s court at this time. We’re waiting to see what their response is.”

Nancy Cook, Quint Forgey and Caitlin Oprysko contributed reporting.

https://www.politico.com/news/2020/01/03/donald-trump-iran-soleimani-093371

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