In Baghdad At Least 2 Rockets Hit Near US Embassy Report Says

Two rockets hit near the US embassy in Iraq’s capital Sunday, witnesses told AFP, shortly after the deadline from a hardline pro-Iran faction for local troops to urge faraway from US forces.
The vehemently anti-American group, Kataeb Hezbollah, had warned Iraqi security forces to “get away” from US troops at joint bases across Iraq by 5:00 pm (1400 GMT).

Sunday’s attack marks the 14th time rockets are fired towards US installations in Iraq over the last two months.

The leaders of Germany, France and Britain Urge Iran Not To Flout Nuclear Deal

The leaders of Germany, France and Britain on Sunday urged Iran to drop measures that go against the 2015 nuclear deal, after Tehran announced it might not abide by a limit on enrichment.
“We turn Iran to withdraw all measures that aren’t in line with the nuclear agreement,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and British PM Boris Johnson said during a joint statement.

The 2015 agreement negotiated between Iran and therefore the UN Security Council permanent members — Britain, France, China, Russia and therefore the us — plus Germany offered Tehran relief from stinging sanctions reciprocally for curbs to stop it acquiring nuclear weapons.

But US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the deal last year had largely left it in tatters, with Iran successively progressively dropping key commitments within the accord.
With tensions rising following the US drone strike at Baghdad airport that killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani and top Iraqi military figure Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the ecu leaders also urged Iran to refrain from taking “further violent actions or support for them.”

“It is crucial now to de-escalate. We turn all the players involved to point out utmost restraint and responsibility.”

The European leaders also pleaded with the parties to not jeopardise a battle against IS jihadists, after the Iraqi parliament passed a resolution demanding that thousands folks troops be ousted.

“Preserving the (anti-IS) coalition is of great importance during this context. We turn the Iraqi authorities to still provide the coalition with the required support,” they said.

The US soldiers stationed across Iraqi bases are deployed as a part of the broader international coalition, invited by the Iraqi government in 2014 to assist fight IS.

The joint statement issued by the three leaders came hours after they spoke on the phone.

Earlier Sunday, a German government spokesman said the three leaders agreed to cooperate towards reducing tensions within the region.

German Police Shooted Dead Knife-Wielding Attacker

German police on Sunday shot dead a knife-wielding Turkish man who sought to attack officers within the city of Gelsenkirchen.
The man, who lived in Gelsenkirchen, struck a cruiser with an object and sought to assail officers standing by the vehicle “with a raised object,” a police spokesman told AFP.

Officers noted that the attacker was holding a knife behind his back, he added.

Despite several warnings from officers, the person refused to prevent his assault, leading a 23-year-old policeman to fireside an attempt that killed him.

Asked to verify reports that the person cried out “Allah Akbar” (“God is greater”) during the assault, the police spokesman would only say they’re “rumours”.

Germany remains on alert following a series of Islamist attacks, the deadliest of which was a truck rampage at a Berlin Christmas market in 2016 that killed 12 people. Dozens of suspects are arrested or charged over alleged terror plots in recent years.

In Somalian Militants Attack US Base In Kenya 3 Americans Killed

Members Of Somalia’s Al-Shabaab group on Sunday stormed a military base employed by US forces in Kenya’s coastal Lamu region, killing three americans and destroying several aircraft and military vehicles, officials said.
Attackers breached heavy security at Camp Simba at dawn but were pushed back, with four of them killed, said army spokesman Colonel Paul Njuguna.

The American military, however, said three US citizens died within the attack including a service member and two civilian defence contractors.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of our teammates who lost their lives today,” General Stephen Townsend, the top folks Africa Command (Africom), said during a statement.

Two other US Department of Defence personnel were wounded, the statement added, without giving further details.

Al-Shabaab has launched regular cross-border raids since Kenya sent troops into Somalia in 2011 as a part of an African Union force protecting the internationally backed government — which the jihadists are trying to overthrow for quite a decade.

The Lamu region, which incorporates popular tourist beach destination Lamu Island, lies on the brink of the Somali frontier and has suffered frequent attacks, often administered with roadside bombs.

Njuguna said “an attempt was made to breach security at Manda Air Strip” at 5:30 am but it had been repulsed.

“Four terrorists’ bodies have thus far been found. The airstrip is safe,” he said, adding that a fireplace had broken out but had since been addressed .

Kenya’s military officer of Police Hilary Mutyambai said officers were “on high alert” after the attack.

An internal police report seen by AFP said two Cessna aircraft, two American helicopters and “multiple American vehicles” were destroyed at the airstrip.

Local government official Irungu Macharia said five people had been arrested near the camp and were being interrogated.

Shabaab claimed to possess killed 17 Americans and nine Kenyan soldiers after the attack.

The nearby civilian airport at Manda Bay, which brings tourists visiting Lamu Island — a UNESCO World Heritage Site — was closed for several hours after the incident, consistent with the civil aviation authority.

Al-Shabaab said during a statement it had “successfully stormed the heavily fortified military base and have now taken effective control of a part of the base”.

AFRICOM accused Al-Shabaab of lying so as to make false headlines.

Shabaab countered with a second statement, saying it had been a 10-hour firefight and mocking the US “inability to debar an attack by just a couple of steadfast Muslim men”.

The group mentioned an uptick in US military airstrikes under President Donald Trump, accusing the US of “strafing villages from above and indiscriminately bombarding innocent women and youngsters .”

AFRICOM said in April it had killed quite 800 people in 110 strikes in Somalia since April 2017.

The Somali jihadists have staged several large-scale attacks inside Kenya in retaliation for Nairobi sending troops into Somalia also on target foreign interests.

The group has been fighting to overthrow an internationally-backed government in Mogadishu since 2006, staging regular attacks on government buildings, hotels, security checkpoints and military bases within the country

Despite years of costly efforts to fight Al-Shabaab, the group on December 28 managed to detonate a vehicle full of explosives in Mogadishu, killing 81 people.

The spate of attacks highlights the group’s resilience and capacity to inflict mass casualties reception and within the region, despite losing control of major urban areas in Somalia.

In a November report, a UN panel of experts on Somalia noted an “unprecedented number” of homemade bombs and other attacks across the Kenya-Somalia border in June and July last year.

On Thursday, a minimum of three people were killed when suspected Al-Shabaab gunmen ambushed a bus travelling within the area.

According to the Institute for Security Studies, the us has 34 known military bases in Africa, from where it conducts “drone operations, training, military exercises, protest and humanitarian activities”.

US President Donald Trump Doubles Down On Threat to Attack Iran Cultural Sites

US President Donald Trump doubled down Sunday on a threat to attack Iranian cultural sites despite accusations that any such strike would amount to a crime .
After his top diplomat, Mike Pompeo, had insisted that any action would conform to law of nations , Trump said he would regard cultural sites as prey if Iran resorted to deadly force against US targets.

“They’re allowed to kill our people, they’re allowed to torture and maim our people, they’re allowed to use roadside bombs and magnify our people and we’re not allowed to the touch their cultural site? It doesn’t work that way,” Trump told reporters.

“If they are doing anything there’ll be major retaliation.”

His comments on his return from an opportunity in Florida followed a welter of criticism over a Tweet on Saturday night during which he said sites which were “important to… Iranian culture” were on an inventory of 52 potential US targets.

Tehran’s secretary of state had reacted to those initial comments by drawing parallels with the ISIS group’s destruction of the center East’s cultural heritage.

And as Twitter was flooded with photos of revered Iranian landmarks in ancient cities like Isfahan under the hashtag #IranianCulturalSites, leading US Democrats said the president would be in breach of international protocols if he made good on his threat.

“You are threatening to commit war crimes,” Senator Elizabeth Warren, one among the highest Democrats hoping to challenge Trump in November’s election, wrote on Twitter.

“We aren’t at war with Iran. The American people don’t need a war with Iran.”

“Targeting civilians and cultural sites is what terrorists do. it is a crime ,” added fellow Senator Chris Murphy.

In a flurry of interviews on the Sunday talkshows, Secretary of State Pompeo said the US wouldn’t hesitate to hit back hard against Iran’s “kleptocratic regime” if it came under fire , but pledged that any action would be according to the rule of law.

Both sides have traded threats since a US drone strike in Iraq on Friday killed Qasem Soleimani — one among the foremost important figures within the Iranian government.

“We’ll behave lawfully. We’ll behave inside the system. We always have and that we always will,” Pompeo told the ABC network.

“The American people should know that each target that we strike are going to be a lawful target, and it’ll be a target designed with a singular mission, of protecting and defending America.”

His comments came after his counterpart in Tehran Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted that “targeting cultural sites may be a WAR CRIME”.

“A reminder to those hallucinating about emulating ISIS war crimes by targeting our cultural heritage: Through MILLENNIA of history, barbarians have come and ravaged our cities, razed our monuments and burnt our libraries,” said secretary of state Zarif.

“Where are they now? We’re still here, & standing tall.”

Threat “Un-American”

Nicholas Burns, who served as US ambassador to NATO under president George W. Bush, said the Trump administration would be guilty of hypocrisy given it had been a part of international efforts to discourage IS from destroying countless pre-Islamic artefacts, including within the Syrian UNESCO-listed site of Palmyra.

“Donald Trump’s threat to destroy Iranian cultural sites would be a crime under UN Security Council resolution 2347 – supported by the Trump Administration itself in 2017 to warn ISIS+Al Qaeda of comparable actions.

“His threat is immoral and Un-American,” said Burns, now a professor at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of state .

Others drew comparisons with the Taliban’s 2001 destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan

Pompeo refused to offer details on the 52 potential targets which Trump said had been involved to represent each and each hostage held within the standoff at the US embassy in Tehran four decades ago.

But one former official expressed skepticism that military planners would comply with target cultural sites.

“I find it hard to believe the Pentagon would offer Trump targeting options that include Iranian cultural sites,” said Colin Kahl who was National Security Adviser to former vice chairman Joe Biden.

“Trump might not care about the laws of war, but DoD (Department of Defense) planners and lawyers do… and targeting cultural sites is crime .”

US President Trump On Call To Leave Iraq “Will Charge Sanctions Like Never Before”

US President Donald Trump threatened sanctions against Baghdad on Sunday after Iraq’s parliament called on US troops to go away the country, and therefore the president said if troops did leave, Baghdad would need to pay Washington for the value of the air station there.
“We have a really extraordinarily expensive air station that’s there. It cost billions of dollars to create , long before my time. We’re not leaving unless they pay us back for it,” Trump told reporters on Air Force One.

Trump said that if Iraq asked US forces to go away and it had been not done on a friendly basis, “we will charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen before ever. it will make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame.”

US Official Says Heightened “State Of Alert” By Iran Missile Forces Detected

The us has detected a heightened state of alert by Iran’s missile forces across the country, a US official told Reuters on Sunday, adding it had been unclear whether the upper readiness level was defensive in nature or not.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, didn’t provide further details or say whether the Iranian missiles were taking aim at any specific targets, amid threats by Tehran of retaliation over a US drone strike last week that killed a top Iranian general.

“They’re clearly at a heightened state of alert. Is that heightened state of aware of be better prepared defensively or to be better prepared offensively? That cannot be determined at now ,” the official said.

Hezbollah Says US Forces In Middle East To Go Home In Coffins

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said on Sunday the US military within the Middle East would pay the worth for the killing of Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani, warning that US soldiers and officers would return range in coffins.
In a speech marking the death of Soleimani and a top Iraqi militia commander during a targeted US air strike, Nasrallah said responding to the killing wasn’t only Iran’s responsibility but the responsibility of its allies too.

But US civilians shouldn’t be targeted, he said.

Founded by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in 1982, Lebanese group Hezbollah may be a critical a part of an Iranian-backed regional military alliance.

Soleimani, Iran’s pre-eminent military commander, was killed on Friday in an attack that took long-running hostilities between Washington and Tehran into uncharted territory and raised the spectre of wider conflict within the Middle East .
“Fair punishment is (aimed at) the American military presence within the region: American military bases, American naval ships, every American officer and soldier in our countries and region,” Nasrallah said.

“The American army is that the one that killed them and it’s the one which will pay the worth ,” Nasrallah said, although US civilians within the region “should not be touched” because this is able to serve the agenda folks President Donald Trump.

“When the coffins of yank soldiers and officers begin to be transported … to the us , Trump and his administration will realise that they need really lost the region and can lose the elections,” Nasrallah said, pertaining to the 2020 U.S. presidential vote.

The us holds Hezbollah liable for the bombing that destroyed US Marine headquarters in Beirut in October 1983, killing 241 servicemen, and a bombing an equivalent year on the U.S. embassy.

U.S. forces withdrew from Lebanon the subsequent year.

In a clear regard to those attacks, Nasrallah said potential suicide attackers were present within the region in greater numbers than within the past.

Hezbollah has helped establish Iran-backed paramilitary groups in Syria and Iraq and inspired the Iran-aligned Houthis. along side Palestinian groups and therefore the Syrian government, they’re a part of what Iran calls the “axis of resistance”.

“We must all seek just punishment across the reach of our region and our nation,” Nasrallah said during a rally by Hezbollah supporters within the Hezbollah-controlled southern suburbs of Beirut.

Some at the rally chanted “death to America”, waved Hezbollah’s yellow iris , and held aloft pictures of Soleimani.

Nasrallah said the killing marked a replacement chapter within the history of the center East. Attacks on the U.S. military within the region would force U.S. forces to withdraw “humiliated, defeated and in terror … as they left within the past”, he said.

President Tayyip Erdogan Says Turkish Military Units Moving To Libya

President Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday that Turkish military units had started moving to Libya to support Fayez al-Serraj’s internationally-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), based in Tripoli.
Turkey’s parliament approved a bill on Thursday that permits for the deployment of troops in Libya to guard Ankara’s interests in North Africa and therefore the Mediterranean and to assist achieve peace and stability in Libya.

“There are going to be an operation centre (in Libya), there’ll be a Turkish general officer leading and that they are going to be managing things over there (Turkish soldiers) are gradually moving there immediately ,” Erdogan said in an interview with CNN Turk.
The GNA last month requested Turkish support because it fends off an offensive by General Khalifa Haftar’s forces, which are backed by Russia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan. On Saturday, a minimum of 30 people were killed and 33 others wounded in an attack on a academy within the Libyan capital.

Turkey condemned the attack and involved international steps to realize a ceasefire. GNA officials and forces allied with the govt declined to discuss the arrival of the Turkish troops. Senior Turkish military personnel will coordinate with the combatant forces in Libya also as provide training and expertise on the bottom , Erdogan said.

“There are going to be different units over there as combatant forces, they’re going to not be from our military. Our top-level military personnel are going to be coordinating things over there,” he added, without elaborating.

Iranian Supreme Leader Weeps On Camera At Prayer For General Killed By US

Mourners packed the streets of Tehran on Monday for ceremonies to pay homage to top Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani, after he was killed during a US strike in Baghdad.
Clutching portraits of their hero, the gang gathered at Tehran University before supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei presided over prayers for the slain general, AFP correspondents reported.

Soleimani, who spearheaded Iran’s Middle East operations as commander of the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force, was killed during a US drone strike Friday near Baghdad airport.

His assassination ratcheted up tensions between arch-enemies Tehran and Washington.

Iran said late Sunday it had been further rolling back its commitments to a nuclear deal already in tatters since US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from it in May 2018.

In freezing early morning temperatures, women in black walked alongside men holding up flags bearing the names of Shiite imams as they walked down Tehran’s Enghelab (Revolution) Street towards the university.

“Down with USA,” said a placard delayed by a girl wearing a black chadour.

The procession was broadcast survive state television, with screens bearing a black ribbon across the highest left corner during a rare tribute.

Khamenei seemed to cry as he prayed over the flag-draped coffins containing the remains of Soleimani and five other “martyrs” killed within the strike.
The supreme leader was flanked by Soleimani’s son, the slain general’s replacement as Quds commander Esmail Qaani, President Hassan Rouhani, parliament speaker Ali Larijani and therefore the Guards’ top commander Major General Hossein Salami.

People prayed along side Khamenei whose voice cracked as he spoke.

“We must provides a crushing response,” one among the mourners told AFP.

“We must target whatever military base they need within the region. We must attack all that are within the range of our missiles,” said the 61-year-old businessman who gave his name as Afkhami.

The US drone attack that killed Soleimani was ordered by Trump, who said the Quds commander had been planning an “imminent” attack on American diplomats and forces in Iraq.

Mourners in Tehran formed a sea of black along Enghelab Street dotted with red Shiite flags and white signs.

One of the placards held aloft by a person read “#hard_revenge”.

As they marched towards the university, a main artery of the Teheran , the mourners chanted “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” and waved flags of Iraq and Lebanon among others.
The procession comes after Soleimani’s remains were returned to Iran on Sunday.

They were paraded through the streets of the southwestern city of Ahvaz before being taken to second city Mashhad, within the country’s far northeast.

The Revolutionary Guards said the overwhelming number of mourners in Mashhad forced the cancellation of a ceremony that had been planned in Tehran on Sunday night.

Tributes have poured in from across the center East and beyond for Soleimani, who was seen because the Islamic republic’s second most powerful person after the supreme leader.

Iraq’s top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani on Sunday offered his condolences to Khamenei, consistent with the supreme leader’s official website.

“Soleimani’s martyrdom caused great sorrow,” said the statement.

“His unique role over the years in fighting with Daesh elements in Iraq, and therefore the great pains he endured during this path is unforgettable,” it said, pertaining to the Islamic State group.

President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan also paid his respects during a call to Rouhani.

A statement from the Afghan presidential palace said Ghani assured Rouhani that “Afghan soil will never be used against the other country”.

The assassination of Soleimani has raised fears of a replacement conflict within the Middle East .

On Friday, Khamenei vowed “severe revenge” as he declared three days of mourning.

Trump responded on Saturday by warning that the US was targeting 52 sites in Iran and would hit them “very fast and really hard” if the Islamic republic attacks American personnel or assets.

On Sunday, the leaders of england , France and Germany appealed for a de-escalation.

“We turn all the players involved to point out utmost restraint and responsibility,” they said during a joint statement.