live updates Iran fires missiles at Iraq military bases that house U.S. troops — live updates

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Why Iran strike "crosses a red line"

Iran launched missile strikes late Tuesday against two Iraqi military bases housing U.S. forces in retaliation for the airstrike that killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani last week. More than a dozen ballistic missiles targeted the Al Asad and Erbil military bases, the Pentagon said, and U.S. officials were assessing the damage.

It was still unclear early Wednesday morning whether there were any casualties, but in a tweet Tuesday night President Trump said: "All is well! Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq. Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good! We have the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world, by far! I will be making a statement tomorrow morning."

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif defended Iran's attack, tweeting that Tehran "took & concluded proportionate measures in self-defense." He added that "we do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression."

The Al Asad airbase houses about 1,500 U.S. and coalition forces. The base was already on high-alert and recently paused its operations against ISIS to shift resources to prepare for a possible revenge attack by Iran.

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New Updates 53m ago

U.K. condemns attack on bases

Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Wednesday that the U.K. condemned the Iranian attack on military bases in Iraq, noting that British forces use the facilities along with their American coalition counterparts.

"We urge Iran not to repeat these reckless and dangerous attacks, and instead to pursue urgent de-escalation," Raab said in a statement distributed by the Foreign Office.

He warned that "a war in the Middle East would only benefit Daesh (ISIS) and other terrorist groups."

By Tucker Reals

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Updated 2:11 AM

Trump on Iran attacks: "All is well!"

In his first tweet since Iran launched the attacks, President Trump assured the public that "All is well!"

"All is well! Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq," Mr. Trump wrote. "Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good! We have the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world, by far! I will be making a statement tomorrow morning."

All is well! Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq. Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good! We have the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world, by far! I will be making a statement tomorrow morning.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 8, 2020

By Victoria Albert

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Updated 2:11 AM

Graham: "This was an act of war" from Iran

Senator Lindsey Graham, a staunch supporter of the president and an outspoken hardliner on Iran, called the ballistic missile strike by Iran "an act of war" and said that Mr. Trump has "all the authority he needs under Article II to respond." Graham spoke with Fox News anchor Sean Hannity on Tuesday evening.

"This was an act of war, Sean, by any reasonable definition," Graham told Hannity. "The missiles were launched from Iran. The president has all the authority he needs under Article II to respond. How he responds is yet to be determined."

Article II of the Constitution names the president as "commander in chief" of the armed forces, although Article I states that the power to declare war resides with Congress. Graham also said that he spoke to Mr. Trump on the phone Tuesday evening.

"I just got off the phone with the president. Your fate is in your own hands in terms of the regime's economic viability. If you continue this crap, you're going to wake up one day out of the oil business," Graham said, speaking directly to the Iranian regime.

Graham said the world just learned that "President Trump can go from zero to 60 pretty fast."

By Grace Segers

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Updated 1m ago

Iran's foreign minister: "We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves"

Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif defended Iran's attack on Tuesday night, writing on Twitter that the country "took & concluded proportionate measures in self-defense." He added that "we do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression."

Analyzing the diplomatic response after missile attacks in Iraq

Zarif's defense of Iran's attack on Tuesday night cited "Article 51 of the U.N. Charter." CBS News' Pamela Falk says Zarif was referring to Chapter VII of the U.N.'s founding document, which states that a nation has an inherent right to use force in self defense if an armed attack occurs. Zarif justified the attack by saying it targeted the base from which the attack against Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani was launched.

Zarif's remarks, saying Iran does not seek an escalation but will defend itself, echoed comments made by U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper before the Tuesday night missile attack. He said the U.S. was not looking to start a war with Iran, but that it was prepared to finish one.

The U.N. Secretary-General, who called for dialogue and restraint on Monday, before the Iran strike, was expected to remind nations on Wednesday of the costs of war and offer a hand with diplomatic efforts.

By Victoria Albert

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Updated 12:58 AM

Iran missile attack "crosses a red line"

The ballistic rocket attack by Iran on two Iraqi military bases "crosses a red line" for the U.S. and is likely to lead to retaliation, CBS News correspondent David Martin said on CBSN.

Martin said that the U.S. has been warning for days that Iran would be held responsible for any attack against American interests.

"I don't think there's any doubt that this attack crosses a red line and will draw a retaliatory strike. And the question really is: is the retaliatory strike going to be limited in scope to just the missile base, for instance, which fired these missiles? Or is it going to be a much broader attack which goes after the headquarters of the Iranian revolutionary guards, for instance, since that is the military unit that launched the strikes?" Martin said.

The Pentagon has not yet released any reports on casualties or damage caused by the strikes. However, Martin said the Trump administration might take these attacks as a justification for further conflict, even if there are no U.S. casualties.

"I think the red line has been crossed, regardless of whether there were American casualties. This was a direct attack on U.S. troops. That's a cause for war. If U.S. troops were killed or injured, I think that would increase the scope of what the U.S. plans to do in retaliation," Martin said.

By Grace Segers

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Updated 12:58 AM

FAA issues flight restrictions over parts of the Middle East

The Federal Aviation Administration has issued flight restrictions that "prohibit U.S. civil aviation operators from operating in the airspace over Iraq, Iran, and the waters of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman."

"The FAA will continue closely monitoring events in the Middle East," the organization wrote. "We continue coordinating with our national security partners and sharing information with U.S. air carriers and foreign civil aviation authorities."

By Victoria Albert

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Updated 12:58 AM

Trump will not address the nation Tuesday

President Trump will not address the nation Tuesday on the missile strikes targeting the Iraqi military bases, two senior administration officials told CBS News. — Fin Gomez and Major Garrett

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Updated 12:58 AM

1,500 U.S. and coalition forces housed at Al Asad

The Al Asad airbase houses about 1,500 U.S. and coalition forces. The base was already on high-alert before the attack and paused their operation against ISIS several days ago fearing a revenge attack by Iran.

By Justin Carissimo

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Updated 12:58 AM

Iran has largest ballistic arsenal in Middle East

"Iran has the largest and most diverse ballistic arsenal in the Middle East, and a substantial inventory of close-range ballistic missiles, short-range ballistic missiles, and medium-range ballistic missiles that can strike targets throughout the region up to 2,000 kilometers from Iran's borders," according to an assessment in November 2019 by the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency.

"Tehran is also a major proliferator of ballistic missile technology to regional state actors and proxy groups," the assessment said. "Iran continues to attempt to increase the lethality, reliability and accuracy of its missile force."

By Olivia Gazis

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Updated 12:58 AM

Trump briefed on attacks

White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said that the White House is "aware" of the reports and that President Trump has been briefed. Vice President Mike Pence has also been briefed, his press secretary said on Twitter.

Mr. Trump and Melania toured Al Asad, one of the bases targeted in the attack, during a surprise Christmas visit to troops in 2018. It was Mr. Trump's first trip to Iraq and his first visit to a combat zone as commander-in-chief.

President Trump greets members of the U.S. military during an unannounced trip to Al Asad Air Base in Iraq on December 26, 2018. SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty

By Victoria Albert

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Updated 12:58 AM

Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps claims responsibility for Al Asad attack

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a unit of Iran's military, claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement Tuesday evening.

"The brave soldiers of IRGC's aerospace unit have launched a successful attack with tens of ballistic missiles on Al Assad military base in the name of martyr Gen. Qasem Soleimani," the group said.

Iran claims responsibility for strikes at Iraqi bases

By Victoria Albert

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Updated 12:58 AM

Pelosi and Schumer notified of strike

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was informed of the rocket attacks when a note was brought in during a House Democratic meeting. Pelosi informed the assembled members and said they should pray for the American men and women in the military, according to Representative Debbie Dingell.

Pelosi's spokesman also tweeted that she spoke with Vice President Mike Pence.

"[email protected] returned a phone call to @VP at 6:34 p.m. tonight after her required presiding over the House at 6:30 p.m," her spokesman, Drew Hammill, tweeted. "The Vice President briefed the Speaker on the Iranian attacks on facilities housing U.S. troops in Iraq."

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer received a call from Pence at 6:15 p.m., a spokesperson for the senator said.

CBS News

By Rebecca Kaplan

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Updated 12:58 AM

Trump says he likes "to obey the law" when asked about Iranian cultural sites

When asked whether he was still considering targeting Iranian cultural sites at a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Tuesday, President Trump said he liked to "obey the law."

"They're allowed to kill our people, they're allowed to maim our people, they're allowed to blow up everything that we have, and there's nothing that stops them. And we are, according to various laws, supposed to be very careful with their cultural heritage. And you know what? If that's what the law is, I like to obey the law," Mr. Trump said.

"But think of it — they kill our people, they blow up our people, and then we have to be very gentle with their cultural institutions. But I'm ok with it. It's ok with me," he added. "I will say this: If Iran does anything that they shouldn't be doing, they're going to be suffering the consequences, and very strongly."

Mr. Trump's comments come after he appeared to threaten Iran's cultural sites in a tweet on Saturday. The director general of the United Nations' cultural agency, UNESCO, said Monday that both Tehran and Washington had signed a 1972 convention obliging states not to undertake "any deliberate measures which might damage directly or indirectly the cultural and natural heritage" of other states.

By Victoria Albert

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Updated 12:58 AM

Biden says the only way out of Iran crisis is diplomacy

Joe Biden says the only way out of Iran crisis is diplomacy

Former Vice President and Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden delivered remarks in New York on Tuesday amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran following the airstrike that killed top Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani.

Biden criticized President Trump for having "no strategy" and "no endgame." He said that the president's "constant mistakes" and poor decision-making have left the U.S. with limited options.

The former vice president argued that the only way out of the Iran crisis is through diplomacy.

"No one wants war," he said, adding that it would take hard work to make sure the U.S. doesn't end up there "by accident."

The remarks gave Biden the chance to flex his foreign-policy chops at a time when the U.S. is bracing for possible retaliation from Iran following Soleimani's death.

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Updated 12:58 AM

Pentagon chief says attack Soleimani was planning was "days" away

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said an attack General Qassem Soleimani was planning against Americans was expected to happen within days, not weeks, of last week's drone strike. "I think it's more fair to say days, for sure," Esper told reporters during a briefing at the Pentagon on Tuesday.

The administration justified killing Soleimani by saying he posed an imminent threat to Americans, but no specific details have been released about the attack he was plotting. Esper told CBS News national security correspondent David Martin the U.S. "should expect" Iran to retaliate for the drone strike in some way.

"We're not seeking war with Iran," Esper said. "I think what happens next depends on them … we're prepared for any contingency."

Esper said the U.S. has been watching recent movements by Iran's military, but he wouldn't go into more detail. "We watch them very closely," he said. "We see their movements. I don't want to get more into that because it starts to get into intelligence issues."

Defense Secretary Mark Esper says Soleimani “has the blood of hundreds of American soldiers on his hands” and “his time was due”

— CBS News (@CBSNews) January 7, 2020

By Alex Sundby

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Updated 12:58 AM

Iran's military displaying "heightened state of readiness," U.S. defense official says

A U.S. defense official called Iranian military movements "very troubling." Iran has not yet moved its ballistic missiles into firing position, but its military has increased its ability to move on short notice.

There is "a wide range of activities of a heightened state of readiness … that indicate Iran is considering going forward with an attack, most likely against American forces," the official said.

By David Martin

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Updated 12:58 AM

Death toll in stampede raised to at least 56

The death toll in the stampede at General Qassem Soleimani's funeral has increased to at least 56 people. State TV reported the increase, with 213 injured, citing Pirhossein Koulivand, head of Iran's emergency medical services.

There was no information as to what had set off the stampede. Online videos showed people lying apparently lifeless, their faces covered by clothing. Emergency crews performed CPR on others as people wailed in the background, crying out to God.

The stampede took place in Kerman, Soleimani's hometown, as the procession began, said the semi-official Fars and ISNA news agencies, citing Koulivand. Soleimani's burial was later delayed, with no new time given.

Associated Press

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Updated 12:58 AM

Pompeo defends killing of Soleimani

Pompeo questioned about strike that killed Iranian general Soleimani

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo continued Tuesday leading the Trump administration's defense of the targeted missile strike that killed senior Iranian general Qassem Soleimani. He insisted that Mr. Trump was right to order the killing and sarcastically dismissed any suggestion that Soleimani might have been in Iraq for peaceful purposes.

"Is there any history that would indicate that it was remotely possible that this kind gentleman, this diplomat of great order, Qassem Soleimani, had traveled to Baghdad for the idea of conducting a peace mission?" Pompeo asked reporters at the State Department. "We know that wasn't true."

Pompeo warned that if Iran were to make another "bad choice," he was confident Mr. Trump would respond "as he did last week, in a decisive, serious manner."

By Tucker Reals

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Updated 12:58 AM

U.S. military trainers heading out of Iraq

U.S. Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison said Tuesday that the Trump administration and its partners in the transatlantic military alliance "remain committed to the #NATO training mission in Iraq and the fight against ISIS" in the face of increasing pressure from Iraqi politicians to withdraw U.S. forces.

[email protected] Allies remain committed to the #NATO training mission in Iraq and the fight against ISIS. We continue to support a safe & prosperous future for the Iraqi people and we look forward to resuming NATO’s on-the-ground training with Iraqi forces once the situation permits.

— Ambassador Hutchison (@USAmbNATO) January 7, 2020

America's counter-ISIS operations have been halted in Iraq and all forces refocused to defend against any Iranian retaliation for the U.S. killing of top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani last week. A senior U.S. official told CBS News national security correspondent David Martin that while training operations have been suspended, the U.S. personnel carrying out that mission were being moved out of Iraq to Kuwait.

The official said the operational headquarters of the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq would remain in the country, and noted that some of the trainers being moved out of the country were being replaced with soldiers deployed this week from the Army's 82nd Airborne division based at Fort Bragg.

Hutchison said in a tweet that the U.S. would "continue to support a safe & prosperous future for the Iraqi people and we look forward to resuming NATO's on-the-ground training with Iraqi forces once the situation permits."

By Tucker Reals

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Updated 12:58 AM

"Chaos" and pride for families of deploying troops

CBS News correspondent Chip Reid has spoken with two women whose partners are among the 3,000 additional U.S. forces being deployed to the Middle East to protect against any revenge attacks by Iran or its proxies.

Military families react to new troop deployments

Reid said the family members of troops serving in the Army's 82nd Airborne division at Fort Bragg know they always have to be ready to deploy in less than 18 hours. It means a lot of stress for the loved ones, but also a lot of pride in what they do for their country.

Rachelle Hertle and her husband Sergeant Alexander Hertle were visiting family in Ohio when he got the call to head to the Middle East a few days ago.

She said it sparked "chaos."

"The previous two deployments were all planned, and so we had time to get ready. This one was, this one threw us for a loop," she said.

"I cannot imagine leaving my children, and I know that it breaks his heart," she said, tearing up. "But this is what we decided as a family that we would do, that we would be a military family."

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Updated 12:58 AM

Ayatollah wants direct attack on U.S. interests

A senior U.S. official told CBS News national security correspondent David Martin on Tuesday that Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has ordered a direct attack on American interests in retaliation for the airstrike that killed his top military commander and friend Qassem Soleimani.

The official said the U.S. military was "extremely concerned" that the retaliation could come quickly. As Martin reported on Monday, American officials believe the next 24 hours or so, following Soleimani's burial, could reveal whether Iran intends to make good on its threats to retaliate.

Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei and President Rouhani pray near the coffin of Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani in Tehran
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (center) and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (center left) pray in Tehran on January 6, 2020 near the coffin of Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani. OFFICIAL PRESIDENT'S WEBSITE/Reuters

Asked by CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer on Tuesday when the Iranian response would come, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif would only say that his country would retaliate at the time of its choosing.

The primary concern remains Iran's ballistic missiles, officials have told Martin. As of Monday evening those weapons had not been moved into firing positions, but the alert status was raised so they were prepared to move and could be fired in substantial numbers within 24 hours. Moving them could also mean they are simply being dispersed as a defensive measure, Martin noted.

American forces in Iraq, and their allies in that country, Israel and across the region are all easily within reach of Iran's missiles.

By Tucker Reals

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Updated 12:58 AM

Stampede delays burial of slain general

A deadly stampede at the funeral ceremony for slain general Qassem Soleimani forced officials in Iran to postpone his burial on Tuesday.

"Unfortunately as a result of the stampede, some of our compatriots have been injured and some have been killed during the funeral processions," Pirhossein Koulivand, the head of Iran's emergency medical services, said earlier. At least 40 people were killed and about 200 injured according to Iran's official state media.

In delaying Soleimani's burial, authorities cited concerns about the massive crowd that had gathered, the semi-official ISNA news agency said. No date was announced for the rescheduled burial.


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Updated 12:58 AM

Iran says it will retaliate against "legitimate targets"

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer on Tuesday that his country would retaliate for the U.S. strike that killed a top Iranian general, but he said that "unlike Trump" has threatened to do, the Islamic Republic would respond in a proportionate manner "against legitimate targets."

Iran foreign minister: Soleimani killing was "cowardly terrorist operation" by U.S.

Zarif would not tell Palmer what constituted, in the minds of Iran's leaders, a legitimate target, nor when Iran would launch its retaliation.

The U.S.-educated diplomat blasted the Trump administration as "a regime that has no respect for international law, threatens to commit war crimes — attacking cultural sites, which is a war crime."

It was a reaction to Mr. Trump's threat over the weekend to attack 52 sites identified as targets inside Iran should the country retaliate for the U.S. airstrike that killed Major General Qassem Soleimani on Friday. Mr. Trump has insisted that the U.S. would be within its rights to strike "cultural sites" in Iran.

Zarif said the U.S. killing of Soleimani was "an act of war done in a terrorist, cowardly operation, and Iran will take an appropriate response… Action by the U.S. has consequences that will happen, and I believe it has already started."

He pointed to the Iraqi parliament's work on legislation that would force American troops to withdraw from the country as evidence of the first consequence of Mr. Trump's "maximum pressure" policy on Iran: 'Maximum pressure is dead, as is the U.S. presence in our region."

By Tucker Reals

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Updated 12:58 AM

Dozens killed in stampede at Soleimani funeral

Iranian state television said 32 people were killed and about 190 more injured in a stampede that erupted at a funeral procession for a general slain in a U.S. airstrike.

Iran Soleimani
Mourners attend a funeral ceremony for Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani and his comrades, who were killed in Iraq in a U.S. drone strike on Friday, in the city of Kerman, Iran, on January 7, 2020. Erfan Kouchari/AP

The TV said the stampede erupted in Kerman, the hometown of Gen. Qassem Soleimani where the procession was underway on Tuesday.

A procession in Tehran on Monday drew over 1 million people in the Iranian capital, crowding both main thoroughfares and side streets in Tehran.

— The Associated Press

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Updated 12:58 AM

Iran threatens to "set ablaze" U.S. allies

The leader of Iran's Revolutionary Guard threatened on Tuesday to "set ablaze" places supported by the United States over the killing of a top Iranian general in a U.S. airstrike last week, sparking cries from the crowd of supporters of "Death to Israel!"

Hossein Salami made the pledge before a crowd of thousands gathered in a central square in Kerman, the hometown of the slain Gen. Qassem Soleimani. His vow mirrored the demands of top Iranian officials – from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to others – as well as supporters across the Islamic Republic, demanding retaliation against America for a slaying that's drastically raised tensions across the Middle East.

Mourners in Kerman dressed in black carried posters bearing the image of Soleimani, a man whose slaying prompted Iran's supreme leader to weep over his casket on Monday as a crowd said by police to be in the millions filled Tehran streets. Although there was no independent estimate, aerial footage and Associated Press journalists suggested a turnout of at least 1 million, and the throngs were visible on satellite images of Tehran taken Monday.

The outpouring of grief was an unprecedented honor for a man viewed by Iranians as a national hero for his work leading the Guard's expeditionary Quds Force.

— The Associated Press

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Updated 12:58 AM

Firm guarding U.S. diplomats in Baghdad could go bankrupt

A defense firm that provides security services to diplomats entering and exiting the U.S. Embassy in Iraq is nearing bankruptcy, according to a new report from credit ratings firm Moody's.

Moody's said the contractor, Constellis Holdings, could enter court supervision by early February, although a bankruptcy isn't assured. The company, which has piled on debt over the past decade and now has liabilities of more than $1 billion, missed a debt payment on December 31, putting it in default, according to both Moody's and credit rater Standard & Poor's.

Although Constellis doesn't guard the U.S. Embassy facility in Baghdad, it does provide security for diplomats and others entering and exiting the building. The status of its contract with the embassy in Iraq hasn't changed, according to a person close to the company. Constellis offers similar protection services in 30 countries around the world to governments and private businesses.

"Constellis plans to continue to operate our business, execute our business strategy and meet our obligations to our stakeholders," a company spokesperson said in a statement to CBS Moneywatch.

By Stephen Gandel

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Updated 12:58 AM

Esper says U.S. military has "no plans to leave" Iraq

In a briefing with reporters at the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Mark Esper responded to reports that the U.S. command in Iraq had informed its Iraqi counterparts of plans to withdraw from the country.

Numerous media outlets reported an unsigned letter purporting to come from the U.S. commander in Iraq informing the Iraqis of the military's plans to prepare for "onward movement" out of the country. The letter said the move was pursuant to a resolution by the Iraqi Parliament calling for the U.S. to leave.

But Esper categorically denied the U.S. planned to withdraw.

"There has been no decision whatsoever to leave Iraq. Period," he said. "We've issued no plans to leave."

Esper said he doesn't know where the letter originated, but said he read it and called it "inconsistent with where we are right now."

Soon after Esper made that statement, Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley returned to the briefing room and told reporters that he'd heard from CENTCOM commander Kenneth McKenzie, who told him the letter was a draft being circulated for input, including from the Iraqis. Milley also said the letter discussed a repositioning of troops, not a withdrawal.

By Stefan Becket

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Updated 12:58 AM

U.S. officials to brief congressional leaders Tuesday

Administration officials will brief congressional leaders on Tuesday about the strike that took out Soleimani, with additional sessions for all lawmakers set for Wednesday, sources familiar with the matter tell CBS News.

Tuesday's briefing will include the so-called "Gang of Eight" — leaders from both parties in the House and Senate, and the chairs and ranking members of the two intelligence committees.

Wednesday's briefings will be open to all members from both chambers and will be conducted by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley and CIA Director Gina Haspel.

Democrats have criticized the administration for not notifying congressional leaders about Friday's airstrike in advance and for failing to brief lawmakers sooner.

By Olivia Gazis

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Updated 12:58 AM

Iran's president: "Never threaten the Iranian nation"

Hassan Rouhani, president of the Islamic Republic, responded to President Trump's threat to target 52 sites if Iran retaliates for the Soleimani strike. Mr. Trump said the number was a reference to 52 Americans who were held hostage in Iran for 444 days between 1979 and 1981, after the revolution.

Rouhani issued his response on Twitter, with a warning to "never threaten the Iranian nation":

Those who refer to the number 52 should also remember the number 290. #IR655
Never threaten the Iranian nation.

— Hassan Rouhani (@HassanRouhani) January 6, 2020

Rouhani's reference to 290 and IR655 is a reference to Iran Air Flight 655, a passenger jet that was shot down by U.S. missiles over the Persian Gulf in 1988. All 290 people on board were killed.

The U.S. acknowledged the incident as a "terrible human tragedy" and agreed to pay $131.8 million in a settlement with Iran before the International Court of Justice in 1998.

By Stefan Becket

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Updated 12:58 AM

U.N. secretary general warns of "profound risk of miscalculation"

At the United Nations, Secretary General António Guterres spoke to reporters about the escalating tensions in Iran and Iraq, although he did not mention either by name.

"The New Year has begun with our world in turmoil," the U.N. chief said. "Geopolitical tensions are at their highest level this century. And this turbulence is escalating."

"This cauldron of tensions is leading more and more countries to take unpredicted decisions with unpredictable consequences and a profound risk of miscalculation," he added, warning of a deepening of the crisis.

An advocate for the 2015 Iran nuclear deal that is now in jeopardy, Guterres said "even nuclear nonproliferation can no longer be taken for granted."

"We see increased social unrest and growing extremism, nationalism and radicalization," he continued. "This situation cannot go on."

Guterres said he had a "simple and clear" message for all parties involved: "Stop escalation."

The Security Council is unlikely to take action regarding the airstrike the killed Soleimani, according to U.K. Deputy Ambassador Jonathan Allen. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif was expected to speak on Thursday at a debate on peace and security, but it remains unclear whether the U.S. will issue a visa allowing him to attend.

By Pamela Falk

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Updated 12:58 AM

U.S. blasts Russia and China for blocking Security Council statement

The U.S. sharply criticized Russia and China for blocking the United Nations Security Council from issuing a statement protesting last month's attack on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq.

The U.S. Mission to the U.N. said Monday it "should not be controversial or warrant courage" to underscore the obligations of a host country under the 1961 Geneva Convention to protect diplomatic premises.

The U.S. statement says it "would not tolerate attacks on U.S. personnel and facilities and will respond decisively to protect our interests, citizens, and allies."

The U.S. said the council's failure to issue a statement calls its credibility into question.

The Associated Press

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Updated 12:58 AM

UNESCO calls for protection of cultural sites

Both Iran and the United States must observe a convention obliging states to preserve cultural sites, the United Nations cultural agency said on Monday after President Trump threatened to target Iranian cultural sites.

UNESCO director general Audrey Azoulay said at a meeting with the Iranian ambassador to the organization that both Tehran and Washington had signed a 1972 convention obliging states not to undertake "any deliberate measures which might damage directly or indirectly the cultural and natural heritage" of other states.

Mr. Trump appeared to ignore the international law when he threatened in a tweet over the weekend to target 52 sites inside Iran, which he said included cultural sites if the Islamic Republic retaliated for the American airstrike that killed a top Iranian general last week.

CBS News White House correspondent Ben Tracy said Mr. Trump's senior counselor Kellyanne Conway was evasive on Monday when asked about the president's threat, arguing that she couldn't address "hypotheticals" and suggesting the president could have been referring to sites that were both cultural and military.

"Secretary Pompeo said yesterday that we will be within the law," she said. "I think that Iran has many military, strategic military sites that you may cite, are also cultural sites." She did not elaborate on what the 52 sites were that the administration has identified as possible targets.

Mr. Trump's administration ended America's UNESCO membership last year, citing "concerns with mounting arrears at UNESCO, the need for fundamental reform in the organization, and continuing anti-Israel bias."


Iranian motorists drive past the Azadi Tower in the capital Tehran on January 13, 2018. Getty
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Updated 12:58 AM

Trump vows Iran won't get a nuke

President Trump renewed his vow on Monday never to allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon.


— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 6, 2020

U.S. presidents have made that vow repeatedly since before Mr. Trump took office, but his tweet on Monday came hours after Tehran said it was abandoning the most crucial parts of the 2015 international nuclear deal.

Mr. Trump pulled the U.S. out of that pact unilaterally in 2018, a move which precipitated the current spiraling crisis with the Islamic Republic.

Since the Trump administration abandoned the deal, Iran has steadily abandoned individual commitments it agreed to under the accord. But the announcement over the weekend that Tehran would no longer abide by limits on its enrichment, the amount of stockpiled enriched uranium it has or nuclear research and development was the most serious departure from the compact negotiated by former President Obama.

Tehran did not elaborate on what levels it would immediately reach with its nuclear program, and it noted that its abandonment of the 2015 deal's terms was reversible.

Iran says it will breach nuclear deal by enriching uranium at key facility

Last summer, as it began to pull away from the deal, Iran said its next goal would be to enrich uranium beyond the 3.67% purity permitted under the pact. Possessing uranium enriched beyond 3.76% — especially if it purified part of its stockpile to the next major technical benchmark of 20% — would greatly reduce the time necessary for Iran to "break out" from its civilian nuclear program and start working toward nuclear weapons capability.

Just a day later Iranian officials said they had successfully enriched uranium to about 4.5%, and threatened to hit the 20% mark.

By Tucker Reals

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Updated 12:58 AM

Iran's arch-rival Saudi Arabia appeals for calm

Saudi Arabia is a key U.S. ally with close ties to the Trump White House, and the Sunni Muslim-ruled kingdom is also an arch-rival of Shiite-led Iran. Iran has been engaged for years in a proxy war with Saudi Arabia in Yemen, where Tehran backs Shiite separatists known as Houthis fighting the Saudi- and U.S.-backed government.

That conflict has already seen rockets, allegedly provided by Iran, fired from Yemen's soil into neighboring Saudi Arabia, so with Iran threatening multi-faceted retaliation against the U.S. for its targeted killing of Major General Qassem Soleimani last week, it's no wonder the Saudis are worried.

"We are very keen that the situation in the region doesn't escalate any further," Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister said Monday.

"It's certainly a very dangerous moment and we have to be conscious of the risks and dangers not just to the region but to wider global security," Prince Faisal bin Farhan said in Riyadh. "We hope that all actors take all the steps necessary to prevent any further escalation and any provocation," he said.

Pompeo says attack on Saudi oil plant was "state-on-state act of war" by Iran

By Tucker Reals

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Updated 12:58 AM

France warns U.S. actions only benefit ISIS

The U.S. military's decision to put the war on ISIS on hold will only strengthen the resurgent terrorist group's insurgency campaign in Iraq, some of America's European allies are warning. The U.S.-led coalition in Iraq announced the halt to anti-ISIS operations on Sunday, citing the need to redirect efforts toward defending against any further Iranian-backed attacks in the country following the U.S. killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.

Cabinet ministers in France and Germany warned Monday that ISIS would be the only ones to benefit from the turmoil caused by Soleimani's killing in the Friday airstrike.

Trump threatens sanctions in Iraq after vote to expel U.S. troops

U.S. troops have been confined to their bases, are not interacting with their Iraqi counterparts and have hunkered down to protect themselves from any revenge attacks by Iran or its proxy groups in Iraq.

American forces have been crucial in the fight against ISIS, but now many in Iraq's parliament want them expelled over the strike that killed Soleimani. Without U.S. support, the fear is that Iraq's own security forces could crumble in the face of a resurgent ISIS, as they did in 2014.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Monday in a radio interview that "you must always ask who is served by and who profits from this instability. The instability in the Mideast today benefits only one organization: the Islamic State group."

He added that the instability would "increase the terrorist threat over France and Europe" and that "all tensions always affect global economic growth."

By Tucker Reals

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Updated 12:58 AM

3,000 more U.S. troops head for the Middle East

More than 3,000 additional U.S. troops were headed for the Middle East on Monday to bolster defenses in case Iran makes good on its threat to retaliate for the Trump administration's targeted killing of a top general.

CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reported Monday that some U.S. military commanders had not been in favor of killing Soleimani, on the grounds that Iran would feel compelled by its national honor to strike back, increasing the likelihood of a war nobody wants.

Trump administration defends decision to kill Qassem Soleimani

But the White House has stood by its decision to kill Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani in an airstrike last Friday, calling him a "terrorist" with the blood of hundreds of Americans on his hands and accusing him of plotting new attacks against U.S. personnel in the region. Mr. Trump personally is standing by his vow to target up to 52 significant sites inside Iran — including non-military cultural sites — should the Islamic Republic retaliate for the strike.

The fear of an all-out conflict with Iran continued to mount in the wake of that threat, and Iran warning of "painful consequences" for the strike that killed Soleimani.

By Tucker Reals

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Updated 12:58 AM

Germany's Merkel to visit Putin in Russia

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will travel to Moscow on Saturday to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin amid growing tensions in the Middle East and elsewhere. Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said Monday that the chancellor will discuss "current international questions" with Putin. Those will include Syria, Libya, Iran, Iraq, Ukraine and bilateral issues.

Seibert said that "Russia is an important player on the world stage and as a permanent member of the (U.N.) Security Council it's indispensable when it comes to solving conflicts in the world." Germany is currently a non-permanent member of the Security Council.

Germany and Russia are among the world powers that have been trying to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran after the U.S. withdrew from the agreement unilaterally in 2018.

By Tucker Reals

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Updated 12:58 AM

NATO to meet as China and Russia criticize U.S.

NATO summoned its ambassadors to Brussels for an extraordinary meeting on Monday as the transatlantic alliance sought to address the rapidly rising tension in the Middle East following America's targeted killing of Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani.

The gathering of America's most vital allies will come amid mounting criticism from abroad of the Trump administration's decision to kill Soleimani citing a vague threat to U.S. personnel in the region, and of Mr. Trump's subsequent threat to hit Iraq with sanctions if that country decides to boot American forces.

China accused the U.S. on Monday of aggravating tension in the Mideast through military interventionism and warned the Trump administration not to abuse its power on the world stage. Russia had already condemned the strike on Soleimani and warned that it could carry "grave consequences for the regional peace and stability."

Ahead of the NATO ambassadors' meeting, meanwhile, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called Mr. Trump's threat to impose sanctions against Iraq "not very helpful" as the world tries to calm the mounting tension in the region.

"I don't think you can convince Iraq with threats, but with arguments," Maas told a German radio show on Monday. He warned that years of international efforts to rebuild Iraq "could all be lost" if the situation continues to escalate.

By Tucker Reals

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Updated 12:58 AM

Khamenei weeps over slain general's casket

Weeping amid wails from a crowd of at least hundreds of thousands of mourners, Iran's supreme leader on Monday prayed over the remains of a top Iranian general killed in a U.S. airstrike in Baghdad, an attack that's drastically raised tensions between Tehran and Washington.

U.S. and Iran trade new threats

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei prayed over the caskets of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani and others slain in the attack. Khamenei, who had a close relationship with Soleimani, wept at one point during the traditional Muslim prayers for the dead.

Soleimani's replacement has already vowed to take revenge. In addition, Tehran has abandoned the remaining limits of its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers in response to the slaying. And in Iraq, the parliament has called for the expulsion of all American troops from Iraqi soil.

The Associated Press

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Updated 12:53 AM

Trump says White House "may discuss" releasing intelligence on Soleimani

Answering questions from reporters before boarding Air Force One, Mr. Trump justified his tweets on attacking Iranian cultural sites.

"They're allowed to kill our people," Mr. Trump said. "They're allowed to torture and maim our people. They're allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people. And we're not allowed to touch their cultural sites. It doesn't work that way."

When asked if he was worried about retaliation from Iran, "if it happens it happens. If they do anything there will be major retaliation."

Mr. Trump said the White House "may discuss" releasing the intelligence on Soleimai. Mr. Trump said there had been surveillance on Soleimani "very specifically for 18 months," but really since the beginning of Mr. Trump's term.

"He was leading his country down a very bad dangerous path," Mr. Trump said.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on "Face the Nation" on Sunday that the Trump administration will "do our best" to explain to the public the details of threats to American diplomats and service members that justified the strike.

By Caroline Linton

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Updated 12:53 AM

House Foreign Affairs Committee responds to Trump's tweet

The House Foreign Affairs Committee tweeted a response to Mr. Trump's tweet threatening to "quickly and fully strike back" if Iran retaliates.

"This Media Post will serve as a reminder that war powers reside in the Congress under the United States Constitution. And that you should read the War Powers Act. And that you're not a dictator," the House Foreign Affairs Committee tweeted.

This Media Post will serve as a reminder that war powers reside in the Congress under the United States Constitution. And that you should read the War Powers Act. And that you’re not a dictator.

— House Foreign Affairs Committee (@HouseForeign) January 5, 2020

The powerful Foreign Affairs Committee is chaired Representative Eliot Engel, a New York Democrat who has said he will oppose military action by the Trump administration not sanctioned ahead of time by Congress. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who has tweeted she is introducing a "War Powers Resolution" to "prevent an illegal war with Iran," is also on the Committee.

By Caroline Linton

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Updated 12:53 AM

Trump threats to "quickly and fully strike back" if Tehran retaliates for Soleimani killing

President Trump threatened to "quickly and fully strike back" if Iran retaliates against the United States for the drone strike that killed top Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani and warned any response from the U.S. may be "disproportionate."

"These Media Posts will serve as notification to the United States Congress that should Iran strike any U.S. person or target, the United States will quickly & fully strike back, & perhaps in a disproportionate manner. Such legal notice is not required, but is given nevertheless!" Mr. Trump tweeted Sunday.

These Media Posts will serve as notification to the United States Congress that should Iran strike any U.S. person or target, the United States will quickly & fully strike back, & perhaps in a disproportionate manner. Such legal notice is not required, but is given nevertheless!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 5, 2020

The president appeared to suggest his tweets would serve as official notice to Congress of lethal force against Iran.

The White House on Saturday provided Congress with formal notification of the airstrike against Soleimani. The strike has sparked debate among some lawmakers as to whether Mr. Trump had the legal authority to use lethal force against the leader of Iran's Quds Force or if congressional authorization was needed.

By Melissa Quinn

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Updated 12:53 AM

Iran says it will abandon limits on nuclear program

Iranian state television reports that the country will no longer abide by any of the limits of the 2015 nuclear deal. The announcement came Sunday night after another Iranian official said it would consider taking even-harsher steps over the U.S. killing of Soleimani.

State TV cited a statement by Iranian president's administration saying the country will not observe limitations on its enrichment, the amount of stockpiled enriched uranium as well as research and development in its nuclear activities. It did not elaborate on what levels it would immediately reach in its program.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations watchdog observing Iran's program, could not be immediately reach for comment. — The Associated Press

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Updated 12:53 AM

Pompeo: U.S. will "do our best" to release intelligence

Pompeo says administration will "do our best" to release intelligence on Iran

The Trump administration will "do our best" to explain to the public the details of threats to American diplomats and service members that justified the strike that killed Qassem Soleimani, leader of Iran's elite Quds Force, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday.

"We understand the obligation to share with the American people why it is we're taking the action we can and we will do so," Pompeo said on "Face the Nation." "President Trump has done so in tweets. I have done so in messages."

  • Transcript: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on "Face the Nation," January 5, 2020

The White House sent Congress on Saturday a formal notification of the strike as required under the War Powers Act. The document, however, was classified, prompting a stinging rebuke from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who said the notification "prompts serious and urgent questions."

But Pompeo said the details of the threat against Americans have been shared with Congress and congressional leadership, and lawmakers will be able to see "most all of that same information" when they return to Washington this week.

"I don't think any reasonable American elected official would see what President Trump and I and Secretary [Mark] Esper saw and conclude that we could've done anything but the action that we took," he said, referring to the secretary of defense.

By Melissa Quinn

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Updated 12:53 AM

Iraqi Parliament calls for ouster of U.S. military

Members of the Iraqi parliament are seen at the parliament in Baghdad
Members of the Iraqi parliament are seen at the parliament in Baghdad on January 5, 2020. Handout / Reuters

Lawmakers in Iraq's Parliament voted Sunday in favor of a resolution that calls for ending foreign military presence in the country. The resolution asks the Iraqi government to end the agreement under which Washington sent troops more than four years ago to help fight ISIS. The bill is nonbinding and subject to approval by the Iraqi government, but has the backing of the outgoing prime minister.

Speaking to lawmakers in Parliament, Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi said that after the killing of Soleimani, the government has two choices: End the presence of foreign troops in Iraq or restrict their mission to training Iraqi forces.

"As a prime minister and supreme commander of the armed forces, I call for adopting the first choice," Abdul-Mahdi said.

Abdul-Mahdi resigned last year in response to the anti-government protests that have engulfed Baghdad and the mostly Shiite southern provinces. Political factions have been unable to agree on a new prime minister, and Abdul-Mahdi continues in a caretaker capacity.

On "Face the Nation," Pompeo said the U.S. is "following very closely what's taking place in the Iraqi Parliament."

The Associated Press

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Updated 12:53 AM

U.S. military pauses anti-ISIS operations

The military says it is pausing operations against ISIS fighters in Iraq to focus on protecting coalition forces inside the country. The Combined Joint Task Force leading U.S. efforts announced the suspension on Sunday.

"Repeated rocket attacks over the last two months by elements of Kata'ib Hezbollah have caused the death of Iraqi Security Forces personnel and a U.S. civilian," the task force said in a statement, referring to the Iraqi militia backed by Iran. "As a result we are now fully committed to protecting the Iraqi bases that host Coalition troops."

"This has limited our capacity to conduct training with partners and to support their operations against Daesh and we have therefore paused these activities, subject to continuous review," the statement continued, using an alternative name for the terrorist group.

The task force said the U.S. remains "resolute as partners of the Government of Iraq and the Iraqi people that have welcomed us into their country to help defeat ISIS."

By Stefan Becket

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Updated 12:53 AM

Pelosi calls for "immediate, comprehensive briefing" of full Congress

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a statement Saturday night saying the classified War Powers notification "prompts serious and urgent questions about the timing, manner and justification of the Administration's decision to engage in hostilities against Iran."

Pelosi raised concerns about the document being classified, and called for an "immediate, comprehensive briefing" of the full Congress.

"The Trump Administration's provocative, escalatory and disproportionate military engagement continues to put servicemembers, diplomats and citizens of America and our allies in danger," Pelosi's statement said. "This initiation of hostilities was taken without an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against Iran, without the consultation of the Congress and without the articulation of a clear and legitimate strategy to either the Congress or the public."

By Caroline Linton

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Updated 12:53 AM

Trump tweets "warning" about Iranian retaliation

President Trump tweeted Saturday night that the U.S. has targeted "52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago)" for attack if Iran retaliates for Soleimani's death. "Let this serve as a WARNING," Mr. Trump wrote.

In a series of tweets, Mr. Trump wrote that Iran is "talking very boldly about targeting certain USA assets as revenge." Mr. Trump said the sites targeted include "some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD."

Iran is talking very boldly about targeting certain USA assets as revenge for our ridding the world of their terrorist leader who had just killed an American, & badly wounded many others, not to mention all of the people he had killed over his lifetime, including recently….

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 4, 2020

….hundreds of Iranian protesters. He was already attacking our Embassy, and preparing for additional hits in other locations. Iran has been nothing but problems for many years. Let this serve as a WARNING that if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have…..

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 4, 2020

….targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD. The USA wants no more threats!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 4, 2020

By Caroline Linton

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Updated 12:53 AM

House and Senate receive formal notification

The House and Senate have received formal notification of the Soleimani strike under the War Powers Act.

"We are acting consistent with the statute's outline, but like all administrations since the law went into effect, we don't believe it is constitutional or that it requires us to do anything," a senior administration official told CBS News about sending the notification.

By Major Garrett

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Updated 12:53 AM

White House to notify Congress of Soleimani strike under War Powers Act

The White House will send formal notification to Congress about the airstrike that killed Soleimani under the War Powers Act, CBS News has confirmed. Congress is required under the War Powers Act to received notification within 48 hours of a strike that could lead to war.

News of the notification was first reported by The New York Times. According to the Times, there likely will be a public portion of the notification and a classified portion.

By Paula Reid

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Updated 12:53 AM

Sources say mortar lands in Baghdad

Sources told CBS News that a mortar hit near the compound of the al-Jadriah Palace in Baghdad on Saturday. It hit outside the Green Zone, which is where foreign embassies including the U.S. Embassy are located. The sources say no one was injured.

By Sarah Lynch Baldwin

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Updated 12:53 AM

Security heightened in U.S. following airstrike

Law enforcement agencies across the country are deploying additional patrols and urging civilians to be vigilant, CBS News' Kenneth Craig reports. In a statement Friday, acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said the Department of Homeland Security is assessing potential new threats against the U.S., and that the department stands ready.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced heightened police presence around the city. Additional officers have been deployed at key landmarks like the UN building.
Other cities, like Philadelphia, are following suit. Lincoln Financial Field will see increased security measures for the Philadelphia Eagles' playoff game on Sunday.
Police at Los Angeles International Airport, however, say they have not made any adjustments to security protocols due to the lack of a credible threat.
Meanwhile, U.S. military units are on high alert to protect some American embassies in Africa and the Middle East. Security alerts are issued for U.S. embassies in Bahrain, Kuwait and Nigeria.

Heightened security in U.S. following Soleimani airstrike
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Updated 12:53 AM

Iran expert calls strike on Iranian general "stunningly" stupid and counterproductive

An expert on Iran called the U.S. airstrike that killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani this week "stunningly" stupid and counterproductive.

"It was a stunningly, can I say, stupid and counterproductive move on the part of the United States. And we're going to pay the price of this, and the people of the Middle East will pay the price for this for years to come," said Barbara Slavin, director of the Future of Iran Initiative at the Atlantic Council, a think tank.

Slavin said in an interview with "CBS This Morning: Saturday" that she sees winners and losers from the strike.

"Winners from this are ISIS, al Qaeda, Sunni fundamentalists that hate Iran as well as the United States, Russia, China, which will become more powerful in the Middle East," Slavin said.

Read more

By Grace Segers

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Updated 12:53 AM

U.S. men's soccer team moves training from Qatar to Florida

"Due to the developing situation in the region, U.S. Soccer has decided to postpone traveling to Qatar for the Men's National Team's scheduled January training camp," U.S. Soccer said Friday in a statement.

It later said the men's team will open its annual January training camp at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.

"We are working with the Qatar Football Association to find an opportunity in the near future for our team to experience Qatar's world-class facilities and hospitality," it said.

By Sarah Lynch Baldwin

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Updated 12:53 AM

Iran is in a three-day period of mourning

Iran on Friday declared three days of public mourning following the death of Soleimani, whose body will be returned to Iran for a burial in his hometown following a funeral, BBC News reports.

On Saturday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani visited Soleimani's home in the Iranian capital to express his condolences.

"The Americans did not realize what a great mistake they made," Rouhani said, according to The Associated Press. "They will see the effects of this criminal act, not only today but for years to come."

Billboards showing Soleimani and vowing "harsh revenge" against the U.S. were seen on major streets in Iran on Saturday, the AP reported.

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Updated 12:53 AM

Mourners march in funeral procession through Baghdad

Thousands of people were marching Saturday in a funeral procession through Baghdad for Soleimani and Iraqi militant leaders who were killed in Friday's strike. Streets were packed with sadness, shock and anger, CBS News correspondent Ian Lee reports from Iraq's capital.

The procession started in Baghdad at one of the most revered sites among Shiite Muslims, the Imam Kadhim shrine, The Associated Press reports. Mourners, who carried Iraqi flags and flags of militias backed by Iran, were also mourning senior Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

People chanted "No, No, America" and "Death to America, death to Israel."

Even Iraq's Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi was seen among the crowd, while in Iran, protesters had tears in their eyes and "Death to America" on their lips. For many there, Soleimani was a symbol, a folk hero, now enshrined in martyrdom.

Mourners surround a car carrying the coffins of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi paramilitary chief Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, killed in a U.S. airstrike, during their funeral procession in Kadhimiya, a Shiite pilgrimage district of Baghdad, on January 4, 2020. SABAH ARAR/AFP via Getty Images
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Updated 12:53 AM

U.S. national security adviser claims strike was "fully authorized" under 2002 resolution

President Trump's national security adviser, Robert O'Brien, claimed Friday night that the strike was "fully authorized" under the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution.

"This was something that was — the president felt was necessary to do," O'Brien said on a call with reporters. "The president exercised America's clear, inherent right of self-defense to counter this threat. It was a fully authorized action under the 2002 — under the AUMF, and was consistent with his constitutional authority as Commander-in-Chief to defend our national, and our forces against attacks like those that Soleimani has directed in the past and was plotting now."

By Victoria Albert

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Updated 12:53 AM

Iran calls on the U.N. to condemn the U.S. for "unlawful criminal act"

Iran's ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi wrote a letter Friday to U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres and to the president of the UN's Security Council, calling on the organization to condemn the strike. The letter calls the U.S. attack "an obvious example of state terrorism."

The letter further claims that the attack "constitutes a gross violation of the fundamental principles of international law, including, in particular, those stipulated in the Charter of the United Nations and thus entails the international responsibility of the United States."

"It is incumbent upon the Security Council to uphold its responsibilities and condemn this unlawful criminal act, taking into account the dire implications of such military adventurism and dangerous provocations by the United States on international peace and security," Ravanchi added.

Iran's foreign minister has also spoken with Guterres over the phone to discuss what Iran is calling the "Ghassem Soleimani assassination," according to a tweet from the minister of Iran's mission to the U.N.

By Pamela Falk

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Updated 12:53 AM

State Department denies Soleimani's killing was an "assassination"

At a briefing at the State Department, three senior officials stressed that the killing of Soleimani was carried out to head off an attack on Americans – and that it was a justifiable action taken in self-defense.

The officials could not say how far along the plot was or whether Soleimani's death means the threat is over, but they did say the threat was to Americans in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and the region. They added that the attack targeted "American diplomats, American military personnel and facilities that house Americans."

"The threat picture that the intelligence presented made it very clear that in the absence of decisive action, hundreds of Americans would be killed," one official said.

Officials pushed back against calling Soleimani's death an "assassination." One official said,"It's not an assassination." Another said non-judicial executions are not allowed under international law, but there are certain criteria for this kind of action, including if the individual is about to launch a lethal attack and there is no realistic judicial or law enforcement alternative.

"And so you take lethal action against him," the official said. "This is something that we've done many times over Democrat and Republican administrations that I've served in. It's the same criteria that's applied in this case and all cases."

Officials added that "Whether the specific plots that he has unleashed were so far advanced that they may be able to carry them out, I don't know. But my strong impression is that everybody in his little foreign legion is scurrying for cover. In fact, I think you can take my word on that that they are scurrying for cover."

"We are not safe in the region as long as Iran is pursuing this general strategy —but we are safer without him than we are with him," they added.

By Christina Ruffini

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Updated 12:53 AM

Trump: "We took action last night to stop a war"

President Trump spoke publicly about Soleimani's death for the first time on Friday at a press conference in Palm Beach, Florida.

"Soleimani was plotting imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel, but we caught him in the act and terminated him," Mr. Trump said.

"For years the Islamic Revolutionary military Guard Corps and its ruthless Quds Force under Solemani's leadership has targeted, injured and murdered hundreds of American civilians and serviceman," he said. "The recent attacks on U.S. targets in Iraq — including rocket strikes that killed an American and injured four American servicemen very badly, as well as a violent assault on our American embassy in Baghdad — were carried out at the direction of Soleimani."

He said what the U.S. did yesterday "should have been done long ago."

"We took action last night to stop a war," he said. "We did not take action to start a war."

Mr. Trump said the United States does "not seek regime change" in Iran, but said that the country's aggression in the region, "including the use of proxy fighters to destabilize its neighbors must end and it must end now."

The president also appeared to address concerns that the death of Soleimani will trigger retaliatory attacks from Iran.

"The United States has the best military by far anywhere in the world, we have the best intelligence in the world," he said. "If any Americans anywhere are threatened — we have all of those targets already fully identified — and I am ready and prepared to take whatever action is necessary, and that in particular refers to Iran."

Special Report: Trump addresses U.S. strike that killed top Iran general

By Audrey McNamara

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Updated 12:53 AM

Operation against Soleimani was set in motion before embassy attack

According to officials, the attack on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad this week, while highly visible, was not what instigated the plan to kill Soleimani, CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports. The operation against him was set in motion after an American defense contractor was killed last week in Kirkuk in a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base, Martin said.

"That's when the original direction was given: 'we're gonna take this guy out,'" said Martin.

"The attack on the base which killed an American was carried out by an Iranian-backed militia which is directly controlled, according to U.S. intelligence, by Soleimani," Martin reports. "So that is what got this going."

The U.S. military was simultaneously picking up intelligence in which Soleimani was talking about a "big action," according to Martin. "He was traveling around the Middle East in what U.S. intelligence believed were a final series of briefings with local militias before this so-called 'big action' was put into play."

He was in Syria then went to Lebanon and flew to Iraq. "When he landed at Baghdad airport there were two Reaper drones circling overhead," Martin reports. Soleimani got into one vehicle while others in his party got into another vehicle. They then took off down the airport road, which is when the drones fired two missiles at each vehicle and "scored direct hits," Martin said.

"You have these relatively small explosions … setting off what promises to be a real earthquake in the Middle East," Martin reports.

Operation against Soleimani was set in motion before embassy attack
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Updated 12:53 AM

U.S. tracked Soleimani for days before deadly strike

A U.S. government official said the U.S. tracked Soleimani for a number of days ahead of the airstrike that killed him, CBS News senior investigative correspondent Catherine Herridge reports. Soleimani had a "frenetic series of travel" over the past few days that ultimately brought him to Baghdad.

"When an operative is on the move, that is the moment when we're in the best position to take a strike," Herridge said.

"Soleimani is someone who is so experienced that it seems unlikely that he would make such a basic … operational security mistake. So it was either arrogance, one of my contacts said, or he was under extreme time pressure that may have been connected to this active plot that Secretary Pompeo has described," said Herridge.

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Updated 12:53 AM

Thousands in Tehran condemn Soleimani's killing

Thousands of people took to the streets in Iran's capital after Muslim prayers on Friday. They chanted "Death to deceitful America" and waved posters of Soleimani, The Associated Press reported.

Agence France-Presse reported they were protesting American "crimes." Men and women took part in the demonstrations.

"The axis of any evil is America, the motto of religion and the Koran is death to America," they said.

One group of men set an American flag on fire, Agence France-Presse reported.

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Updated 12:53 AM

Iran names Soleimani's replacement

The supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has named Soleimani's replacement. He appointed Major General Esmail Ghaani, Soleimani's deputy, as the commander of the Quds Force.

"Following the martyrdom of the glorious general haj Qassem Soleimani, I appoint the honorable Brigadier General Esmail Ghaani — who has been among the most prominent IRGC Commanders during the Sacred Defense and has served along martyr Soleimani in the Quds force in the region for years — as the new commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps," Khamenei said in a statement posted on Twitter.

Ghaani has been deputy commander of the Quds Force, the overseas arm of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, for over two decades, Reuters reports.

Ghaani was quoted by Iranian media In 2017 as saying that President Trump's "threats against Iran will damage America … We have buried many … like Trump and know how to fight against America."

According to the supreme leader's statement, the Quds Force strategy under Ghaani "will be identical to that during the time of Martyr General Soleimani."

Who was Qassem Soleimani?

By Audrey McNamara

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Updated 12:53 AM

Former CIA official calls Soleimani's death an earthquake "of staggering magnitude"

Marc Polymeropoulos, a 26-year veteran of the CIA who retired from the agency's Senior Intelligence Service in June, said Americans need to be prepared for "a long bloody and messy war — likely asymmetric, where Americans civilians may die, where thousands more US troops may find themselves deployed to the region, and where the U.S. may become embroiled once again in a long Middle East conflict."
He described the death of Soleimani as "an earthquake in the Middle East of staggering magnitude" and said "the possibility of escalation with Iran is immense, and given Soleimani's stature, Iran will be compelled to retaliate."
He said the U.S. should immediately reinforce its embassies and military facilities in the region and worldwide.
"The American public needs to understand that we may lose American lives after this act," Polymeropoulos said.
He also said "there is no question" the strike was justified given that Soleimani had "the blood of hundreds of Americans on his hands." He also said, citing the statement issued by Pentagon, that the strike was "likely required" to defend against ongoing threats – though it was "not akin" to the raids that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden or ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. It would not have been hard to know Soleimani's whereabouts at any given time, particularly in Iraq, he said.
"There's nothing that goes on there that we don't know about. It's just a matter of, 'Do you really want to do this?'" he said. — Olivia Gazis and Sarah Lynch Baldwin

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Updated 12:02 PM / January 3, 2020

U.S. troops on high alert

There are 9,000 U.S. forces currently in the region, and 3,000 more ready to deploy. The troops are now preparing for possible retaliation and are on high alert, CBS News' Ian Lee reports.

Hours before the airstrike that killed Soleimani, U.S. troops from the Army's 82nd Airborne Division arrived in Kuwait, Iraq's neighbor. The troops were sent in response to the recent attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. An estimated 6,000 Iraqis gathered at the embassy on Tuesday and several dozen managed to get into what a senior U.S. official described to CBS News as a reception area just outside the compound after scaling a wall. Protesters were railing against American airstrikes that killed 25 fighters from an Iran-backed Shiite militia in Iraq.

On Friday morning, Iran-backed Hezbollah vowed to avenge Soleimani's death. The group ordered its "resistance fighters" around the world to avenge Soleimani.

American allies in the region, like Israel, are also preparing for possible retaliation and are on high alert. On Friday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement in support of Mr. Trump's decision.

"Just as Israel has the right of self-defense, the United States has exactly the same right. Qassem Soleimani is responsible for the death of American citizens and many other innocent people. He was planning more such attacks," reads Netanyahu's statement. "President Trump deserves all the credit for acting swiftly, forcefully and decisively. Israel stands with the United States in its just struggle for peace, security and self-defense."

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Updated 8:51 AM / January 5, 2020

Oil prices surge

The price of oil surged on concerns that Iran might respond to Soleiman's killing by disrupting global supplies of energy from the Middle East. The international benchmark for crude oil jumped more than 4%.

During past flare-ups with the United States, Iran threatened the supply of oil. About 20% of crude traded worldwide goes through the Strait of Hormuz, where the shipping lane is only 2 miles wide and tankers have come under attack. — The Associated Press

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Updated 12:06 PM / January 3, 2020

Iran and Iraq are furious

Iran's foreign minister, Javad Zarif, condemned the attacks on Twitter: "The US' act of international terrorism, targeting & assassinating General Soleimani—THE most effective force fighting Daesh (ISIS), Al Nusrah, Al Qaeda et al—is extremely dangerous & a foolish escalation. The US bears responsibility for all consequences of its rogue adventurism."

Iran's Defense Minister, Amir Hatami, was quoted by state news agency IRNA as saying the Islamic republic would take a "crushing revenge" for Soleimani's assassination "from all those involved and responsible."

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi called it "an aggression against the country of Iraq, its state, its government and its people," and warned that it risked sparking a "devastating war."

He said the strike was a "flagrant violation of the conditions authorizing the presence of U.S. troops" in Iraq.

U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial Executions Agnes Callamard questioned the Trump administration's justification for the strikes in a series of tweets early Friday and called them "unlawful" for the fact that others were killed.

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Updated 10:27 AM / January 3, 2020

State Department tells Americans in Iraq to leave immediately

The State Department issued a security alert overnight telling all Americans in Iraq to leave the country immediately.

"U.S. citizens should depart via airline while possible, and failing that, to other countries via land," it said. "Due to Iranian-backed militia attacks at the U.S. Embassy compound, all public consular operations are suspended until further notice. U.S. citizens should not approach the Embassy."

By Sarah Lynch Baldwin

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Updated 8:52 AM / January 5, 2020

U.S. politicians react

Reaction from lawmakers in Washington was split along party lines. Democratic Senator Tom Udall, from New Mexico, called the attack a "reckless escalation of hostilities" that would bring the nation "to the brink of an illegal war with Iran."

In a statement issued late Thursday, House Speaker and Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi called Mr. Trump's move a "provocative and disproportionate" response to Iran's recent actions.

"Tonight's airstrike risks provoking further dangerous escalation of violence. America — and the world — cannot afford to have tensions escalate to the point of no return," Pelosi said, chastising the White House for carrying out the strike "without the consultation of the Congress."

Democrats question legality of drone strike that killed Qassem Soleimani

"The full Congress must be immediately briefed on this serious situation and on the next steps under consideration by the Administration," Pelosi said.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham tweeted his support: "I appreciate President @realDonaldTrump's bold action against Iranian aggression. To the Iranian government: if you want more, you will get more."

Republican Senator Ben Sasse called Soleimani "an evil bastard who murdered Americans," and praised Mr. Trump for his "brave and right call."

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Updated 11:36 AM / January 3, 2020

Soleimani and the Quds Force

A former U.S. intelligence official described Soleimani as "most experienced guerrilla fighter operating globally," running operations with Iranian forces and proxy militias in Lebanon, Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. The official described his death as "devastating," and said the "very disruptive" assassination would likely cause a power struggle in Iran.

Former acting CIA director: There will be “dead civilian Americans” as a result of Qassem Soleimani killing

In April 2019, the U.S. designated the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, including the Quds Force, a "foreign terrorist organization." In making the announcement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo singled out Soleimani.

"With this designation, we are sending a clear signal, a clear message to Iran's leaders, including Qassem Soleimani and his band of thugs, that the United States is bringing all pressure to bear to stop the regime's outlaw behavior," Pompeo said at the time.

Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser under Barack Obama who was instrumental in the 2014 Iran nuclear deal, said there's "no question that Soleimani has a lot of blood on his hands."

"But this is a really frightening moment," he added. "Iran will respond and likely in various places. Thinking of all US personnel in the region right now."

More than 700 Army paratroopers are headed to Kuwait, and as many as 5,000 more paratroopers and U.S. Marines were expected to be sent to the Persian Gulf in the coming days.

While speaking to reporters off camera earlier Thursday, Esper said there were indications militias loyal to Iran were planning further attacks against Americans.

"Do I think they may do something? Yes, and they will likely regret it," he said.

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First published on January 8, 2020 / 4:13 AM