Iran has warned that a “harsh retaliation is waiting” for the United States after an air strike ordered by Donald Trump killed a top Iranian military leader.
General Qassem Soleimani was the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force and the architect of the country’s interventions in the Middle East.
His death marks a major escalation in the standoff between Washington and Iran, which has been under increasing strain after the US president withdrew from a nuclear deal and imposed crippling economic sanctions.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed a “harsh retaliation" after the air strike near Baghdad’s airport, calling Gen Soleimani the “international face of resistance”.
He also declared three days of public mourning for the general's death.
The US Defence Department said it killed Gen Soleimani because he “was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region”.
It also accused him of approving the orchestrated violent protests at the US embassy in Baghdad earlier this week.
Iranian state television said the strike was “the biggest miscalculation by the US” since the Second World War.
“The people of the region will no longer allow Americans to stay,” it said.
Following the attack Mr Trump tweeted an image of the American flag.
Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has urged “all parties to de-escalate” after the incident, adding: “Further conflict is in none of our interests.”
Sky News foreign affairs editor Deborah Haynes told talkRADIO the US had taken a “very big gamble” by targeting Gen Soleimani.
“For America to go after that man and to kill him on Iraqi soil not only is going to enrage Iran but it’s also, as we’re seeing from reactions today, enraging Iraq,” she told James Max.
She added: “I just don’t think that Iran can leave the assassination of its most prominent military leader unanswered.
“But the Iranian’s are going to be absolutely mindful that any response by them will trigger further retaliation from the United States and do they really want to go to war with a superpower?”
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