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US-Iran tension shows no signs of de-escalation as Trump threatens to hit 52 sites ‘very hard’

Donald Trump's fresh warning comes amid soaring tension between Washington and Tehran after the US President ordered the killing of General Qassem Soleimani in an airstrike at Baghdad airport.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
January 5, 2020 3:23:20 pm
US President Donald Trump threatened to attack 52 Iranian sites if it retaliates. (File)

US President Donald Trump on Sunday fired a fresh salvo at Iran, threatening to hit 52 Iranian sites “very hard” if Tehran retaliates to America’s drone attack on General Qassem Soleimani.

“The United States just spent Two Trillion Dollars on Military Equipment. We are the biggest and by far the BEST in the World! If Iran attacks an American Base, or any American, we will be sending some of that brand new beautiful equipment their way…and without hesitation!,” Trump tweeted.

His warning comes amid soaring tension between Washington and Tehran after the US President ordered the killing of General Qassem Soleimani in an airstrike at Baghdad airport.

The strike has opened up a wider conflict around the world, with both sides showing no signs of slowing down. Reacting to Trump’s statement, Reuters reported Iran’s Army Chief as saying: “US lacks courage for military confrontation with Iran.”

Meanwhile, a day after thousands gathered in Baghdad to mourn Soleimani’s death, his body was flown into Iran today. Mourners packed the Iranian city of Ahvaz to attend the top general’s funeral, where chants of “Death to America” were ringing in the air, according to semi-official news agency ISNA.

IN PICTURES | Thousands gather to mourn Iran’s General Qassem Soleimani who was killed in US airstrike

Ahvaz presented a rather gloomy picture with Shiite chants resonating in the air and mourners holding up portraits of 62-year-old Soleimani, seen as a hero of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war.

At the funeral procession of Major General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad on Saturday. Reuters

The White House has sent a formal notification to the Congress under the War Powers Act over Friday’s drone strike, a senior administration official said. US law requires the administration to notify Congress within 48 hours of committing armed forces to military action or imminent actions.

Hashd al-Shaabi (paramilitary forces) fighters set the U.S. Embassy wall on fire as they protest to condemn air strikes on their bases, in Baghdad, Iraq December 31, 2019. REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani

House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, said it raised more questions than it answered.
“This document prompts serious and urgent questions about the timing, manner and justification of the Administration’s decision to engage in hostilities against Iran,” Pelosi said in a statement.

On Saturday late evening, multiple rockets were fired inside Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, its Jadriya neighbourhood, and the Balad airbase housing US troops, the Iraqi military said in a statement, adding that there were no deaths. “Several rockets targeting Celebration Square and the Jadriya area in Baghdad, and the Balad airbase in Salahuddin province, with no loss of life. Further details to come,” the military said.

In this photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, President Hassan Rouhani, left, meets family of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in the U.S. airstrike in Iraq, at his home in Tehran, Iran, Saturday. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

India, which maintains cordial ties with Tehran as well as Washington, maintained a diplomatic stand and reacted cautiously to it, urging restraint and calling for de-escalation. MEA did not react to Trump’s statement on Saturday where referred to Soleimani’s plots of attack extending to New Delhi.

Meanwhile, the latest geopolitical developments in the Middle East are likely to set the tone for the global market this week, affecting oil prices. Brent crude surged 4.4. per cent to USD 69.16 per barrel on supply concerns, whereas, the rupee plunged by 42 paise against the US dollar.

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