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Don't let Obama play the Iran card in order to start a war
in order to get elected--be careful Republicans!
@realDonaldTrump 12:43 PM · Oct 22, 2012·Twitter Web Client

Iran Crisis - January 2020 - - America Held Hostage

Iraq now has a weak and "headless" government, a political environment similar to Iran in 1979 when a group of Iranian students took over the US embassy in Tehran and held 52 American citizens and diplomats hostage for 440 days. More recently in 2012, a Libyan armed group stormed a US compound amid political vacuum and chaos resulted in two US personnel being killed, including the US ambassador to Libya.

Hundreds of protesters breached the outer walls of the heavily fortified US embassy compound in Baghdad on 31 December 2019, setting parts of its parameter on fire - an angry reaction to deadly US air raids days earlier against Kataib Hizbollah, an Iran-backed militia. Most of the protesters, members of the paramilitary group Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation Forces, or PMF), were clad in military fatigues. PMF is an umbrella organisation of several armed militia groups - including Kataib Hezbollah - funded and armed by Iran, but with formal links to the Iraqi armed forces. Shouting "Down, Down USA!", the crowd hurled rocks and water bottles and vandalised security cameras outside the embassy grounds.

Government security forces did not block militia members and their leaders from entering the heavily fortified Green Zone where the US embassy is located, a sign that the Iraqi government may not have full control over the current events. Angered crowds marched unimpeded through the checkpoints of the usually high-security Green Zone to the embassy gates, where they broke through a reception area, chanting "Death to America" and spraying pro-Iran graffiti on the walls.

Donald Trump issued a stern warning to Iran and Iraq, writing on Twitter: "Iran has orchestrated the attack on the US embassy in Baghdad". He warned the US would "hold Iran for responsible" for the rapidly unfolding events in the Iraqi capital. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Prime Minister Mahdi and President Barham Salih that the US "will protect and defend its people, who are there to support a sovereign and independent Iraq", the State Department said.

Kataib Hezbollah, the group associated with the Hashd that was targeted in the US raids, initially said it would stay at the embassy. A large group camped outside the building overnight, angry at US airstrikes that killed 25 pro-Iran fighters over the weekend. They set up about 50 tents and even portable bathrooms after marching unimpeded into the high-security Green Zone. But the group's spokesman Mohammad Mohyeddin later backed down, saying they were abiding by the Hashd's order to leave the embassy and gather outside the Green Zone out of "respect" for the state.

Doug Bandow, research fellow at the Cato Institute, who served as special assistant to US President Ronald Reagan, criticised the Trump administration for its "lack of good intelligence and understanding" of current Iraqi politics. "The Trump administration has also poisoned its relations with Iran, which is the key player in Iraq, when it pulled out of a landmark nuclear agreement with Tehran last year and imposed punishing sanctions against it," he said.

PJ Crowley, former US assistant secretary of state for public affairs, said that the Trump administration's strategy of ramping up political and economic pressure on Tehran - in the hope of bringing the Islamic Republic's leaders to the negotiating table to agree to another nuclear agreement - has for two years yielded no results.

V-22s delivered Marines</a>Overnight, a rapid response team of Marines flew in to reinforce the embassy. V-22s delivered Marines to reinforce the gaurd unit at the Embassy. The US announced it will deploy an infantry battalion of about 750 soldiers to the region. "This deployment is an appropriate and precautionary action taken in response to increased threat levels against US personnel and facilities, such as we witnessed in Baghdad today," US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in a statement. "The United States will protect our people and interests anywhere they are found around the world," Esper added.

Hundreds of Iraqi militiamen and their supporters hurled stones at the US Embassy in Baghdad for a second day on 01 January 2020 and security forces fired tear gas and stun grenades to drive them away. The protests, led by Iranian-backed militias, mark a new turn in the shadow war between Washington and Tehran playing out across the Middle East. The U.S. Embassy continues to advise U.S. citizens not to approach the Embassy. U.S. citizens should keep in touch with family members. Due to militia attacks at the U.S. Embassy compound, all public consular operations are suspended until further notice. All future appointments are cancelled.

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper warned 02 January 2020 that the United States might take preemptive action if it received warning that Iran or its proxy forces were planning further strikes on U.S. interests in the Middle East. “We’re prepared to do what is necessary to defend our personnel and our interests and our partners in the region,” Esper said. He also warned that Washington had “indications” of additional Iranian provocations, effectively confirming that the escalation was only the beginning of a drawn-out US-Middle East inflamed crisis.

Reuters reported 04 January 2020 that Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani met with his Iraqi Shia militia allies in mid-October 2019. Soleimani instructed his top ally in Iraq, Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, to step up attacks on US targets in the country using sophisticated new weapons provided by Iran. Soleimani’s plan to attack US forces was aimed at provoking a military response that would redirect rising public anger towards the United States and away from Iran. According to Reuters, in early October 2019, "Soleimani ordered Iranian Revolutionary Guards to move more sophisticated weapons - such as Katyusha rockets and shoulder-fired missiles that could bring down helicopters - to Iraq through two border crossings... "

On 11 December 2019 two Katyusha rockets landed near the "outside perimeter" of Baghdad International Airport. No casualty or damage has been reported following theattacks. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks. There had been a series of rocket attacks on military installations in Iraq over the past week. On 09 December 2019, at least six Iraqi security forces were wounded after four Katyusha rockets hit a military complex that also houses US forces near Baghdad International Airport. Those wounded in the assault belonged to Iraq's Counter-Terrorism Service. On 06 December 2019, two Katyusha rockets landed in an air base just north of the capital Baghdad, where American trainers are stationed, but caused no casualties or damages. Attacks on Iraqi bases hosting US troops and foreign diplomatic missions came as a wave of protests over unemployment, corruption and lack of public services continue in the country. Since early October 2019, at least nine attacks hit US targets.

The Trump administration escalated its standoff with Iran to a whole new level on Friday 03 January 2019 by ordering a targeted killing of Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s Quds Force. The Iranian general was blown up along with 11 other people, including a senior commander of an Iraqi militia backed by Tehran, when their motorcade was hit by US guided missiles just outside Baghdad International Airport. Two American MQ-9 Reaper drones fired missiles into a two-car convoy that was leaving the airport. The killing of the popular Iranian general in Baghdad is a game-changer in the conflict between Washington and Tehran, which had remained restricted to cloak-and-dagger shenanigans and proxy hostilities.

The "targeted killings" of both men "most likely violate international law incl[uding] human rights law," the UN's Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, Agnes Callamard, wrote shortly after the attack. The human rights expert said that such an attack may have been justified to protect against "an imminent threat to life" or in self-defense, but this "test is unlikely to be met in these particular cases." Callamard said: "Based on the information we have so far it is not possible to determine whether the strike was legitimate under the UN Charter governing the use of force."

The fact that the strike took place as the cars left the airport suggests that the drones were already in a ‘holding pattern’ in the skies, waiting for the moment to strike. There were no operational US drone bases in the area, with only three drone bases having a history of making strikes in Iraq. Specifically, these are the Ali al-Salem airbase in Kuwait, al Udeid airbase in Qatar, or the Al Dafra airbase in the UAE. Even if the drones took off from the closest airbase in Kuwait, that’s nearly 570 km of travel time to be made before his landing, and manageable for the MQ-9 Reaper drone, with a range of over 1800 km and a top speed of 480 km/h. With all indications pointing to at least more than an hour and a half of preparation and flight, the odds are in favor of the drone strike that killed Qassem Soleimani being part of an elaborate operation based on intelligence work.

The Iraqi caretaker prime minister said Washington has violated the terms, under which Baghdad allows the US to station its troops on its soil. Caretaker Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi called the move a “dangerous escalation that threatens the security of Iraq and the region”, while Iraqi caretaker President Barham Salih also joined in condemning the attack. "The assassination of an Iraqi military commander in an official post is an aggression against the country of Iraq, its state, its government and its people," Abdel Mahdi said.

Washington claimed it was justified in killing Soleimani because the Iranian general was planning attacks on American citizens. As the commander of the commando branch of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), he was directly involved in coordinating the activities of various militia groups in Iraq and Syria. The militias played an essential part in fighting against the terrorist group Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in both countries, boosting Iranian regional influence and Soleimani’s personal popularity. The American government, which formally designated the IRGC a terrorist organization amid last year’s growing hostility towards Iran, appears to see no difference between Soleimani and IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was killed in a US raid in October 2019.

Russia warned that the US action in Iraq would boost tensions across the Middle East. "The killing of Soleimani... was an adventurist step that will increase tensions throughout the region," news agencies RIA Novosti quoted Russia's foreign ministry as saying. "Soleimani served the cause of protecting Iran's national interests with devotion. We express our sincere condolences to the Iranian people."

The US State Department called on all US citizens to “depart Iraq immediately” in advice issued on Friday, in the wake of the US killing of key Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani. “US citizens should depart via airline while possible, and failing that, to other countries via land,” the State Department advised. “Due to Iranian-backed militia attacks at the US Embassy compound [in Baghdad], all public consular operations are suspended until further notice.”

“A president who vowed to keep the United States out of another Middle Eastern war has in effect just issued a declaration of war,” says Robert Malley, president of the International Crisis Group. “A strike that the administration claims was intended to deter Iranian attacks is almost certain to trigger far more of them. Qaaem Soleimani’s death is undoubtedly a very serious blow to Iran. But it also is a very serious blow to any hope for regional de-escalation.”

“Soleimani was an enemy of the United States. That’s not a question,” said Democratic Senator Chris Murphy, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “The question is this – as reports suggest, did America just assassinate, without any congressional authorization, the second most powerful person in Iran, knowingly setting off a potential massive regional war?”

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders denounced Trump for giving the order to Soleimani, also calling the move a "dangerous escalation" bringing the United States "closer to another disastrous war in the Middle East that could cost countless lives and trillions more dollars." Sen. Elizabeth Warren also stated that although Soleimani was responsible for the loss of American lives, "this reckless move escalates the situation with Iran and increases the likelihood of more deaths and new Middle East conflict. Our priority must be to avoid another costly war." Tom Udall, a Democrat from New Mexico and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, warned, “Such a reckless escalation of hostilities is likely a violation of Congress’s war-making authority..."

For some Republicans, the issue was a no-brainer. Sen. Ben Sasse said, “This is very simple: General Soleimani is dead because he was an evil bastard who murdered Americans.” Republican Senator Ted Cruz called the death of Soleimani “welcome and long-overdue justice for the thousands of Americans killed or wounded by his Iranian-controlled forces across the Middle East.”

If Iran doesn’t retaliate, it will lose face, it will appear as a very weak player in the Middle East, which allows its senior officials to be assassinated. Iranian officials vowed to exact a “vigorous revenge” on the US for the death of Soleimani, with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei warning that “revenge awaits the criminals who have stained their hands in his blood.” Foreign Minister Javad Zarif condemned the killing as an "act of state terrorism" in a statement. "The pure blood of Qassem Soleimani will surely strengthen the tree of resistance, unite the Iranian people, and make US policies in the region less effective by the day," he said.

Even if contained, according to a Financial Times analyst, the conflict between the US and Iran is likely to "scatter more sparks across a region deeply scarred by war and turmoil," besides exposing the international oil market to new vulnerabilities as the oil prices have already jumped 3 per cent a barrel soon after the news of Soleimani’s assassination was made public.

Donald Trump issued a grave threat to Iran on 04 January 2020 over the Islamic Republic's vow to retaliate for the assassination of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' (IRGC) Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani. Trump began his three-tweet-long response by addressing Iran's threat to target the U.S.' assets in the Middle East, especially after Washington accused Soleimani of planning the December 27, 2019 attack on the K-1 Base in Iraq's Kirkuk province.

"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...." The U.S. President continued to fire off accusation's against the late Iranian commander, claiming that Soleimani attacked the American Embassy in Baghdad on December 30, along with making new plans to launch attacks against the U.S. "....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....."

Trump then threatened to target 52 Iranian sites, a reference to the 52 Americans that were taken hostage at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in November 1979. "....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!"

On 05 January 2020 the Iraqi parliament called on the government to end all foreign troop presence in Iraq and to cancel its request for assistance from the US-led coalition which had been working with Baghdad to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). "The government commits to revoke its request for assistance from the international coalition fighting Islamic State due to the end of military operations in Iraq and the achievement of victory," the resolution read. "The Iraqi government must work to end the presence of any foreign troops on Iraqi soil and prohibit them from using its land, airspace or water for any reason." Parliament resolutions, unlike laws, are non-binding and the move would require new legislation to cancel the existing agreement.

Iraq Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr said the move fell short of an appropriate response to recent development in Iraq and called on foreign armed groups to unite. "I consider this a weak response insufficient against American violation of Iraqi sovereignty and regional escalation," Sadr who leads the Sairoon bloc, the largest parliament, said in a letter to the assembly. Sadr listed a number of demands including the immediate cancellation of the security agreement with the US, the closure of the US embassy, the expulsion of US troops in a "humiliating manner", and criminalising communication with the US government.

Around 5,000 US troops remained in Iraq, most of them in an advisory capacity. Most US troops fought alongside Iran-backed Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation Forces or PMF) during 2014 - 2017 against Islamic State group.

Trump said if Iraq asked US forces to leave and it was not done on a friendly basis, "we will charge them sanctions like they've never seen before ever. It'll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame." He also said Iraq would have to pay for the cost of an airbase the US has helped develop in the country. "We have a very extraordinarily expensive airbase that's there," he said. "It cost billions of dollars to build, long before my time. We're not leaving unless they pay us back for it." Germany's foreign minister said threatening Iraq with sanctions is "not very helpful" after US President Donald Trump warned that Baghdad could be hit by sanctions "like they've never seen before" if US forces were forced to leave. "I don't think it works to convince Iraq with threats but with arguments," Heiko Maas told Deutschlandfunk public radio.

Trump bluntly warned Iran 05 January 2020 against taking vengeance, repeating his insistence that US bombing targets could include Iran's cultural heritage sites. Trump wrote: “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!”

Critics said that would qualify as a war crime under international law. "If they do anything there will be major retaliation," Trump told reporters on Air Force One, as he flew back to Washington - and a looming Senate impeachment trial - from vacation in Florida. Trump had already threatened bombing of 52 unspecified targets in Iran if Tehran attacks US troops and interests in the region. In his latest comments, he was adamant that targets could include places of cultural significance in a country boasting an ancient heritage and two dozen UNESCO-listed sites. "They're allowed to kill our people," a defiant 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 site? It doesn't work that way."

Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, Majid Takht Ravanchi, said the attack on Soleimani “was an act of war” by the US and that — “the response to a military action is a military action.” Iranian news agency Tasnim quoted a senior IRGC General Gholamali Abuhamzeh as saying 35 US targets had been identified in the region, "as well as Tel Aviv" - the most populous city in Israel. He also raised the prospect of attacks on ships in the Gulf.

“A president who vowed to keep the United States out of another Middle Eastern war has in effect just issued a declaration of war,” says Robert Malley, president of the International Crisis Group. “A strike that the administration claims was intended to deter Iranian attacks is almost certain to trigger far more of them. Qaaem Soleimani’s death is undoubtedly a very serious blow to Iran. But it also is a very serious blow to any hope for regional de-escalation.”

“Iranian proxy forces in Iraq have thought that they could act with impunity, and that if they acted we wouldn’t take strikes against Iran proper,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told CNN. “We’ve made clear for months to the Iranian regime that that wouldn’t be the case, that we were going to hold responsible the actors, the leaders who took these actions and who orchestrated these actions.”

General Hossein Dehghan, a top military adviser to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ayatollah Khamenei, said that the U.S. "has started the war," attacking President Donald Trump as "a veritable gangster and a gambler." Dehghan said "It was America that has started the war. Therefore, they should accept appropriate reactions to their actions. The only thing that can end this period of war is for the Americans to receive a blow that is equal to the blow they have inflicted. Afterward they should not seek a new cycle.... [Trump] doesn't know international law. He doesn't recognize U.N. resolutions either. Basically, he is a veritable gangster and a gambler. He is no politician he has no mental stability."

Any illusions about the possibility of an even partially rational cooperation on foreign policy with the government in Washington had long been shattered. Cynical remarks by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who accused the Europeans of not giving enough support in the Middle East, underline their helplessness. It was that hint of madness in his and President Trump's statements that made the dangerous situation even more disturbing. Experienced observers of US Middle East policy fear there is no strategy to follow up on the current blind flurry of activity. US foreign policy was marked by the emotional eruptions of an unpredictable president and his power-drunk supporters.

On January 5, a large number of Somali rebels broke the US headquarters in East Africa with only automatic weapons such as automatic rifles, machine guns and rocket launchers, causing heavy casualties and loss of military equipment. The attack took place in the early hours of January 5th local time. The Somali "Shabaab" even "broadcasted" the fighting process through well-known international social media on the same day. Somali Al-Shabaab belonging to the militants issued a statement on the 6th stating that it killed 17 U.S. soldiers and 9 Kenyan soldiers (a total of 26 people), destroyed 7 military aircraft and 3 in a 10-hour fierce battle. military vehicle. The statement also "ridicules" the US military's will to fight is far less than the "Shabaab" rebel forces. US Army African Command and the Pentagon announced on the same day that the attack killed one US soldier and two US contractors and injured two US Department of Defense personnel. The attacked "Simba" base is located in the Lamu region of Kenya bordering Somalia. Since the U.S. military and the Somali government forces began a joint fight against "Al-Shabaab" extremist organizations, this is the first time the latter has attacked U.S. military targets outside its own country.

In the early morning of the 8th local time, multiple U.S. military bases in Iraq were attacked. For the first time, Iran publicly stated that Iranian Revolutionary Guard soldiers successfully launched a military operation code-named "Martyr Sulaimani", firing dozens of surface-to-surface missiles at US bases. Subsequently, the US military also confirmed that the missiles coming from Iran targeted at least two US military bases, including Iraq ’s Erbil base and the country ’s western Assad air base. Following the attack, Jalil, previously the secretary and chief nuclear negotiator of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, posted an Iranian flag on social media without text. The move appeared to be a response to the behavior of Trump to post the American flag after the US military killed Suleimani.

The US media quoted an anonymous US defense official as saying that Iran fired 15 missiles at US military bases, of which only 11 hit the target. According to Iranian media speculation, the attack may have used the latest Conqueror-313 ballistic missile. It was reported that US radars tracked missiles in flight, base personnel had sought cover before being hit and did not attempt to intercept the missiles. There was a huge gap between the news released by the Iranian official media and the US military.

The Iranian official media claimed that the Iranian army launched dozens of missiles and attacked two US bases, which killed 80 US troops and injured 200. According to Iran's state-run Fars news agency, the Revolutionary Guard Corps said the strikes killed at least 80 US army personnel, and resulted in the "destruction of a considerable number of drones and helicopters." The U.S. forces claimed that none had died. The Iranian missiles seem to be intentionally "biased" with aimpoints intended to avoid casualties, which did not touch the US military bottom line.

Ail al Asad AB - BDA 08 January 2020 Ail al Asad AB - BDA 08 January 2020 Ail al Asad AB - BDA 08 January 2020

Ail al Asad AB - BDA 08 January 2020 Ail al Asad AB - BDA 08 January 2020

The Iraqi military said total of 22 ballistic missiles targeted coalition force locations in Iraq. Of these, 17 missiles targeted al-Asad base and 5 others targeted coalition locations in Erbil northern the country. DoD confirmed 16 missiles were fired and that only 12 impacted their targets. Only one impacted Irbil and the rest hit Al Assad. The missiles were launched from three locations within Iran. The US military said no casualties were reported among the Iraqis. The most noteworthy thing about the missile attack is how restrained it was. It looked as though it was designed to cause as little damage as possible. A small number of missiles against a military target. It seemed Iraq had prior warning about the attack. It is almost a de-escalatory response.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley made clear he believed Iran meant to kill US troops “based on what I saw & what I know.” He said Iranians intended to cause structural damage “and to kill personnel.” Troops stationed at an Iraqi air base knew beforehand that the facility will be attacked by Iran, which helped them to safely take shelter, unnamed sources were cited by CNN. Sources asserted that most US forces were either withdrawn from the base or sheltered in bunkers for two-and-a-half-hours before Iran launched missiles. At the same time, the sources claimed that although the US troops were in the know about the attack, they didn't know what the nature of the attack would be. The fact that there were no casualties in a missile strike was described as a "miracle" by the sources which claimed that the projectiles were landing just a few metres from the bunkers.

Tehran conducted the strike to bolster its image at home. After the strike, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted that Iran "concluded proportionate measures" for self-defense, targeting the bases from where the "cowardly attack" against Iranian officials was launched. Zarif added that Iran did not seek "escalation or war." Iranian propaganda portrayed these attacks as a 'crushing victory' of what they are calling a 'hard revenge' campaign for the martyrdom of Soleimani. And they congratulated the Iranian people and the nation on this victory over the US.

Commander of Air Force Corps Commander Sardar Hajizadeh told reporters it would continue throughout the region and was a move that must have been made. He added: "We did not seek to kill anyone in the operation, although tens of people were killed and wounded and were carried by C-130 aircraft." Haji Zadeh continued: "They say they had evacuated the base, while at the time we carried out the operation there were 7,000 to 6,000 troops at the base. Following Operation Corps, at least three flights of C-130 were transported to Jordan and occupied Palestine, and a number of Chinook helicopters transported them to a hospital in Baghdad". According to information gathered by Iraqis from the al-Assad base, more than 100 Americans have been killed and more than 300 injured.

The leadership and commander of the IRGC and Quds Force call for the attacks to continue until the Americans are completely expelled. For the past 70 years, no country has had the courage to attack America after World War II, which means that the Islamic Republic of Iran has attained such power and authority that it has wielded US regional power at the regional level.

Ukrainian International Airlines Ukrainian International Airlines Ukrainian International Airlines

A Ukrainian International Airlines Boeing 737-800, flying to Kiev and carrying mostly Iranians and Iranian-Canadians, crashed on 08 January 2020 shortly after taking off from Tehran's Imam Khomeini airport, killing all 176 people on board. Five security sources - three Americans, one European and one Canadian - told Reuters the initial assessment of Western intelligence agencies was that the Ukraine International Airlines plane had suffered a technical malfunction and had not been brought down by a missile.

One US official told Reuters news agency that US satellites had detected the launch of two missiles shortly before the plane crashed, followed by evidence of an explosion. Two officials said Washington believed the downing of the plane was accidental. Newsweek, CBS and the Associated Press news agency also reported the US officials' assessments. The Ukrainian flight was hit by an Iranian anti-aircraft missile system, three sources told Newsweek. According to Newsweek’s report, the airplane is said to have been struck by a Russian-built Tor-M1 surface-to-air missile system, according to a Pentagon official, a senior US intelligence official and an Iraqi intelligence official. CBS news reported US officials were confident Ukrainian airliner was shot down by #Iran. US intelligence picked up signals of the radar being turned on, detected infrared blips of two missile launches (likely SA-15s) followed shortly by another infrared blip of an explosion.

Iran denied for several days that a missile downed the aircraft. But then the US and Canada, citing intelligence, said they believed Iran shot down the aircraft. Ali Abedzadeh, head of Iran's civil aviation authority, said it was impossible due to close coordination between Iran's air defence and the civil aviation department. "What is obvious for us, and what we can say with certainty, is that no missile hit the plane," Abedzadeh told reporters in Tehran.

Supreme leader Khamenei, initially silent about the crash, said information should be made public. Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), in a rare step, apologised to the nation and accepted full responsibility for the plane crash. General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps airspace unit, said he had informed Iran's authorities about the unintentional strike, a comment that raised questions about why officials had publicly denied it for so long.

Senior Guards commander Amir Ali Hajizadeh said in a press conference his unit accepted "full responsibility" for the incident. "We had requested several times that the country's airspace become clear of all flights," he said. "Requests were made but due to some considerations it was not done and at the same time with the flights, the war situation continued to exist." In an address broadcast by state TV, he said that when he learned about the downing of the plane: "I wished I was dead."

Ukraine demanded an official apology and compensation. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called for "a complete and thorough investigation" with Iran's full cooperation. Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote that "human error at time of crisis caused by US adventurism led to disaster", citing an initial armed forces investigation into the crash. A military statement said the plane flew close to a sensitive Revolutionary Guards site at a time of high alert. But Ukraine said the plane was in a normal flight corridor. Iran's Civil Aviation Organisation also said the airliner had not veered off its normal course.

A group of Iranian protesters demanded Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei step down after Tehran said its military mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian plane, killing all 176 people on board. "Commander-in-chief [Khamenei] resign, resign," videos posted on Twitter showed hundreds of people chanting in front of Tehran's Amir Kabir University. There is a lot of anger. Iranians are demanding justice and accountability. Many people including families of the victims are in shock. They do not understand why their government would have lied to them for this long. Vigils that were held near Amir Kabir University quickly turned into anti-government protests with people calling for the IRGC to leave the country.

On 16 January 2020 Captain Bill Urban, spokesman for US Central Command (CENTCOM) confirmed reports that 11 US servicemen were injured as a result of the attack that took place on 8 January. The servicemen were treated for concussion symptoms - 8 have been transported to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, and three more to Camp Arifjan in Kuwait. Donald Trump and the US military had said there were no casualties after the attack on the Ain al-Asad airbase in western Iraq and a facility in its northern Kurdish region. "No Americans were harmed in last night's attack by the Iranian regime," Trump told the country in a live address on Jan. 8.

The Pentagon said on 24 January 2020 that 34 United States service members had been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury following missile attacks by Iran on a base in Iraq earlier in the month. Trump appeared to play down the injuries, saying he "heard that they had headaches and a couple of other things". Trump and other top officials initially said Iran's attack had not killed or injured any US service members.

"As of today, 50 US service members have been diagnosed with TBI," Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Thomas Campbell said 27 January 2020. This report is a 16-service member increase from last week's count of 34 injured personnel given by department spokesman Jonathan Hoffman. Of the 16 newly identified cases, only one service member had been removed from Iraq. "Of these 50, 31 total service members were treated in Iraq and returned to duty, including 15 of the additional service members who have been diagnosed since the previous report. 18 service members have been transported to Germany for further evaluation and treatment," Campbell added.

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Page last modified: 31-01-2020 19:10:34 ZULU