By Associated Press - Monday, January 6, 2020

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - The latest on U.S.-Iran tensions in the wake of the U.S. airstrike that killed Iran’s top general (all times local):

4 a.m.

Iraq is condemning the U.S. airstrike that killed Iran’s top military commander as a “flagrant violation” of the terms of the American forces’ presence in the country and “a dangerous escalation that might ignite a devastating war in Iraq, the region and the world.”

Iraq’s U.N. Ambassador Mohammed Hussein Bahr Aluloom called on the U.N. Security Council to condemn the U.S. airstrike and “assassination” that killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and a senior Iraqi militia commander.

He urged the council in a letter Monday to hold accountable “those who have committed such violations.”

Bahr Aluloom also called on the Security Council to ensure “that Iraq is not dragged into international and regional crises,” and to prevent “the law of the jungle” from prevailing.

Any Security Council action sought by Iraq against the Trump administration, however, is virtually certain to be vetoed by the U.S..


12:10 a.m.

At the United Nations, Russia and China say they strongly oppose the New Year’s Eve attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

But Moscow and Beijing say they have decided to block a U.N. Security Council statement condemning that attack because it doesn’t address the subsequent U.S. killing of Iran’s top general.

The U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad had been stormed by Iran-backed Shiite militias.

Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said Monday that Moscow agreed with the proposed U.S. statement condemning the embassy attack.

But he says it would be “impossible” not to take into account the U.S. killing of Gen. Qassam Soleimani inside Iraq last Friday. Mideast tensions have since reached a boiling point.

Nebenzia says the focus must now be to “prevent developments going down the drain in the direction of a major conflict.”


11:00 p.m.

The U.S. Embassy in Israel has issued a warning to Americans to stay on the alert “in the event of mortar or rocket fire.”

The embassy’s website said it posted the security alert Monday “out of an abundance of caution.” The warning addressed U.S. citizens in Israel, Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Tensions in the Middle East have been at a boiling point since the U.S. killed a top Iranian last week in Iraq.

Israel, a key U.S. ally and longtime foe to Iran, has kept a low profile since the killing.

The U.S. has said it will bomb Iran if Tehran retaliates.

A former Iranian Revolutionary Guard leader then suggested the Israeli city of Haifa and others could be targeted should the U.S. attack Iran.


9:30 p.m.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is warning of the risk of any miscalculation amid global tensions “at their highest level this century.”

The U.N. chief says these tensions are “leading more and more countries to take unpredicted decisions with unpredictable consequences.”

Guterres told reporters Monday that his message is simple: “Stop escalation. Exercise maximum restraint. Re-start dialogue. Renew international cooperation,” and avoid a new war.

He did not mention any countries by name. But his comments follow the U.S. killing of top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad. The U.S. has threatened airstrikes inside Iran if Tehran retaliates for the killing.

If the U.S. were to directly bomb Iran, it could spark a war and lead to region-wide violence, potentially drawing other countries into a global conflict.


9:15 p.m.

NATO’s secretary-general is calling for restraint as tensions mount sharply between the United States and Iran, after Iran’s top general was killed in a U.S. airstrike.

Jens Stoltenberg chaired emergency talks between NATO ambassadors in Brussels on Monday. He says the 29 allies “called for restraint and de-escalation. A new conflict would be in no one’s interest.”

Stoltenberg says the members underlined their long-held “concern about Iran’s destabilizing activities in the wider Middle East region.”

He says several U.S. briefers explained the “rationale” behind the Trump administration’s decision to kill Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, but he declined to provide details.

Asked about concern within NATO over the unilateral U.S. move, Stoltenberg said only that the airstrike was “a U.S. decision.”

The United States is by far the biggest and most influential member of NATO.


8:50 p.m.

Iraq’s caretaker prime minister has met with the U.S. ambassador to say cooperation is key to prevent “sliding towards an open war” between the U.S. and Iran.

Adel Abdul-Mahdi said the U.S. must also work with Iraq to bring about the withdrawal of American troops from Iraqi soil.

He told U.S. Ambassador Matthew Tueller on Monday that relations with Washington must be built on a “sound basis.”

Tensions in Iraq and the wider Middle East are at a boiling point, after the U.S. killed Iran’s top general last week in an airstrike in Baghdad.

Iraq’s parliament voted Sunday to expel U.S. and foreign troops in the wake of the killing.

Baghdad has for years worked to balance its alliances with both the U.S. and Iran.

U.S. forces were in Iraq to help fight against Islamic State militants and train Iraqi forces.


8:05 p.m.

The United States has 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. Embassy compound in Baghdad was stormed by Iran-backed Shiite militias on New Year’s Eve.

Days later, the U.S. killed Iran’s top general in an airstrike at Baghdad’s international airport. The killing has sparked heightened tensions across the wider Middle East.

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.


7:50 p.m.

The United Nations’ cultural agency is calling on governments to remember that cultural sites are not targets.

President Donald Trump has recently tweeted that the United States would bomb Iranian cultural sites if Tehran retaliates for the America’s recent killing of a top Iranian general.

UNESCO’s director-general, Audrey Azoulay, says both the U.S.and Iran have ratified treaties protecting cultural sites during war. She met with the Iranian ambassador to the Paris-based organization on Monday.

Targeting cultural sites is a war crime under the 1954 Hague Convention for the protection of cultural sites.

Iran is home to two dozen UNESCO World Heritage Sites. They include the ancient ruins of Persepolis, the grand mosque of Isfahan, and the Golestan Palace in Tehran, where the last shah to rule Iran was crowned in 1967.


7:25 p.m.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is putting some distance between London and Washington over President Donald Trump’s threat to bomb Iranian cultural sites.

Trump’s warning came as Tehran has vowed to retaliate for a recent U.S. airstrike that killed Iran’s top military commander.

James Slack, Johnson’s official spokesman, told reporters during a briefing Monday that: “There are international conventions in place that prevent the destruction of cultural heritage.”

Trump tweeted a day earlier that the U.S. has selected 52 targets that are “important to Iran & the Iranian culture” to be bombed, should Iran hit back.

British officials stress that Britain and the U.S., a vital ally, remain in constant dialogue at multiple levels. That’s even though Johnson was not told ahead of time of Trump’s plan to attack the Iranian general inside Iraq.

Johnson and other European leaders are seeking to calm tensions.


6:45 p.m.

The United Nations’ atomic watchdog agency says its inspectors are continuing to monitor and verify Iran’s nuclear activities.

That’s even after Tehran announced it would no longer abide by the limits of a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, in response to the U.S. killing of its top military commander.

The International Atomic Energy Agency told The Associated Press on Monday that Iran’s statement a day earlier says cooperation with the agency “will continue as before.”

Iran insists its atomic program is for peaceful purposes.

The U.S. withdrew from the nuclear deal last year and reimposed sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy.

Tehran has since broken some of the deal’s limits as part of a step-by-step pressure campaign to get sanctions relief.


6:20 p.m.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry is urging all parties “not to create additional tension and uncertainty” regarding Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers.

Tehran has abandoned the remaining limits of the agreement in response to a recent U.S. airstrike that killed its top military commander.

Monday’s statement from Moscow said the 2015 deal “remains a global asset.” Russia is among the countries that signed the agreement.

Russia’s statement adds that Iran’s refusal of the deal’s restrictions on uranium enrichment “does not in itself pose any threat from the point of view of the proliferation of nuclear weapons.”

It says Iran “is carrying out all its activities in close cooperation and under the constant supervision” of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Also Monday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu spoke by phone with Iran’s chief of general staff Mohammad Bagher. The Defense Ministry says they discussed steps to prevent escalation of the situation in the Middle East.


6:00 p.m.

Thousands of people are demonstrating in Yemen’s capital with posters bearing anti-American slogans to protest the recent U.S. killing of Iran’s top military commander.

The protests were organized Monday by Yemen’s Shiite Houthi rebels, who are allied with Iran and control large parts of northern Yemen, including the capital, Sanaa.

The protests coincide with a massive turnout in Tehran to mourn Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who was the architect of many of Iran’s regional military campaigns in recent years.

Iran has supported the Houthis in Yemen’s nearly five-year civil war, which pits them against the country’s internationally recognized government and a Saudi-led military coalition.

Iran and Saudi Arabia are longtime foes.


5:15 p.m.

Iran’s foreign minister has challenged President Donald Trump in a tweet, sharing photos from the massive crowds in Tehran mourning an Iranian commander killed by a recent U.S. drone.

Mohammad Javad Zarif asks: “Have you EVER seen such a sea of humanity in your life, @realdonaldtrump?”

He urged Trump to distance himself from his advisers who seek confrontation with Iran: “Do you still want to listen to the clowns advising you on our region? And do you still imagine you can break the will of this great nation?”

Monday’s tweet also reiterated Iran’s stance that the U.S. military should be expelled from the Middle East.

The huge processions for the slain Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani mark the first time Iran has honored a single man with a multi-city ceremony. He will be buried in his hometown of Kerman on Tuesday.


4:20 p.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron is committing to continue the fight against the militant Islamic State group, including through France’s military presence in the Middle East.

Macron said during a Cabinet meeting on Monday that he also condemns Iran’s “aggressive intentions” and its decision to abandon the 2015 nuclear deal. That’s according to government spokeswoman Sibeth Ndiaye. She said the French leader called for a deescalation of tensions over recent events, including the U.S. airstrike that killed Iran’s top military commander last week in Baghdad.

France has over 1,000 troops involved in the military operation against the IS group in Iraq and Syria.

In a phone call with President Donald Trump on Sunday, Macron expressed his “full solidarity” with the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq and France’s determination to work with partners to ease tensions. Iraq’s parliament on Sunday called for U.S. troops in the country to leave.

3:30 p.m.

Iraq’s top leadership has gathered to receive condolences for militia leaders killed along with top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani in a U.S. airstrike last week.

The gathering in Baghdad on Monday comes a day after parliament voted in a favor of a bill requesting the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country.

The non-binding vote to end the presence of 5,200 troops requires the approval of the Iraqi government. It highlights the sharp deterioration in relations between the Americans and Iraq in recent weeks amid soaring tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

Iraqi officials have denounced the airstrike a violation of the country’s sovereignty. The strike also killed Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and several other Iran-backed fighters.

Outgoing Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi thanked all the mourners who attended the condolences at his office, calling al-Muhandis a “heroic leader” with a “pure soul.”

2:15 p.m.

Pakistan’s foreign minister says his country will not let its soil be used against any other state and the Islamic nation will not become part of any regional conflict.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s comments followed his contacts with the foreign ministers of Iran, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Turkey. He called for restraint and de-escalation as tensions rise over the U.S. killing of Iran’s top military commander.

Qureshi in a Twitter post on Monday added that Pakistan’s position is very clear in standing for peace and stability and that “violence must be avoided.”

Pakistan has been a key ally of the United States in its war on terror since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. It is also closely allied with Saudi Arabia but tries to maintain a diplomatic balancing act between Riyadh and Tehran.

1:45 p.m.

China says it believes Iran was “forced” to reduce its commitment to the 2015 nuclear deal and says the “recent military adventures by the U.S. violated the basic norms governing international relations.”

Iran on Sunday abandoned the remaining limits of the agreement in response to the U.S. airstrike that killed its top military commander. The country mourned him Monday.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang added that “there is no way out by military means, and extreme pressure will not work.” He said “power politics is unpopular and unsustainable.”

China is among the countries that signed the nuclear deal. The spokesman asserted that Iran has demonstrated restraint under the agreement and “did not violate its obligations.”

1 p.m.

France’s finance minister says the current tensions in the Middle East could affect global economic growth and reinvigorate Islamic State group extremists.

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Monday on France-Inter radio 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.”

Le Maire added that the instability “will increase the terrorist threat over France and Europe.”

And he said that “all tensions always affect global economic growth.”

12:35 p.m.

The leader of the Palestinian militant group Hamas is in Tehran attending the funeral of an Iranian general killed in a U.S. airstrike in Iraq.

Ismail Haniyeh in an address to Iranian mourners described the slain general, Qassem Soleimani, as “the martyr of Jerusalem.”

Haniyeh vowed that Palestinian militant groups, including his Islamic group that controls Gaza, will walk Soleimani’s way “to confront the Zionist project and the American influence.”

Haniyeh’s visit to Iran was surprising. In December, Egypt allowed him to travel for his first regional tour since his 2017 election into the Hamas leadership on the condition that he not visit Iran, according to Arab and Israel media reports.

12:20 p.m.

Germany’s foreign minister says European powers will respond this week to Iran’s announcement that it will no longer abide by the limits contained in the 2015 nuclear deal.

France, Britain and Germany, along with Russia and China - the two other remaining signatories - have been trying to keep the agreement alive after President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out in 2018. Tehran in recent months broke some of the deal’s limits as part of a step-by-step pressure campaign to get sanctions relief.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Monday the Europeans will talk to Iran and the U.N. nuclear watchdog and take a coordinated decision. He noted that the agreement contains procedures to respond to such situations.

He told Deutschlandfunk radio that “this could be the first step toward the end of this agreement, which would be a great loss - and so we will weigh things up very, very responsibly.”

12 p.m.

Germany’s foreign minister says it’s “not very helpful” to threaten Iraq after its parliament voted to expel U.S. troops from the country.

President Donald Trump said after Sunday’s vote that the U.S. wouldn’t leave without being paid for its military investments in Iraq over the years. He said if the troops do have to withdraw, he would hit Baghdad with economic penalties.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told Deutschlandfunk radio Monday that the international community “has invested a great deal” in helping stabilize and rebuild Iraq “and that all risks being lost if the situation continues to develop this way.”

Maas added: “I think the right way is to convince Iraq not with threats but with arguments, and there are plenty of those, but of course Iraq itself has the last word.”

Germany has a small contingent of soldiers in Iraq training Iraqi forces.

11:45 a.m.

South Africa’s ruling party has condemned the U.S. airstrike that killed Iran’s top military commander as an “act of international terrorism.”

The statement appeared in a Facebook post over the weekend and was issued by party secretary-general Ace Magashule. The ruling party is the former liberation movement African National Congress once led by Nelson Mandela.

South Africa’s foreign ministry released a more measured statement Friday supporting Iraq’s sovereignty and calling for dialogue and calm.

The ANC party statement called the “raw aggression” an attack on Iran’s sovereignty and it called for maximum restraint.

9:40 a.m.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has prayed over the caskets of the top Iranian general and others slain in a U.S. airstrike near the Baghdad airport last week.

The general’s successor, Esmail Ghaani stood near his side, as did Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and other top leaders in the Islamic Republic.

Khamenei wept at one point during the traditional Muslim prayers for the dead. The crowd and others wailed. Afterward, the crowd screamed: “Death to America!”

Earlier on Monday, the slain general’s daughter threatened U.S. military forces in the Middle East at a funeral procession for her father.

8 a.m.

An Iranian general who replaced the leader killed by a U.S. airstrike in Baghdad has vowed to take revenge as Tehran abandoned the remaining limits of its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers in response to the slaying.

Esmail Ghaani’s threat comes as the blowback over the U.S. killing of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani. Separately, Iraq’s parliament has called for the expulsion of all American troops from Iraqi soil.

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