The US-Iran Crisis

By Jessie Yeung, Fernando Alfonso III, Ivana Kottasová and Amir Vera

Days after President Donald Trump ordered a drone strike that killed Qasem Soleimani, the powerful commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force, the US is bracing for possible retaliatory actions by Iran.

Before the strike, the US had been pushed to the brink of retaliation against Iran or its proxies on multiple occasions, specifically after attacks last summer on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf and oil facilities in Saudi Arabia and Iran’s downing of a US drone in June.

Here’s how tensions between the two nations have escalated in recent weeks:

December 27: A rocket attack believed to be linked to a Shiite militia group, backed by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, killed a US civilian contractor and wounded several US and Iraq military personnel on a base near Kirkuk, Iraq.

December 29: According to the Pentagon, US forces conducted airstrikes at five facilities in Iraq and Syria controlled by a Shiite military group known as Kataib Hezbollah — the group that American officials blamed for the attack on a base near Kirkuk.

December 31: Pro-Iranian protesters, demonstrating against the American airstrikes, attacked the US Embassy in Baghdad, scaling walls and forcing the gates open.

January 3: Trump said he ordered a precision drone strike at the Baghdad airport to “terminate” Soleimani, a top Iranian commander who was plotting “imminent and sinister attacks on Americans diplomats and military personnel.” Others were killed in the attack.

January 4: Iran vowed retaliation against the US, in response to the strike. If Iran targets “any Americans or American assets,” Trump has said he would sanction specific military strikes against Iranian cultural sites, which could amount to a war crime.

January 5: Soleimani’s body arrived in his home country, where thousands mourned him. Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Hossein Dehghan, the military adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader, told CNN in an exclusive interview that Tehran would retaliate directly against US “military sites.”

TEHRAN, IRAN - JANUARY 06: (----EDITORIAL USE ONLY  MANDATORY CREDIT - "IRANIAN LEADER PRESS OFFICE / HANDOUT" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS----) Soleimanis long-time lieutenant and the new leader of Quds Force Gen. Esmail Qaani cries over the coffin during the funeral ceremony of Qasem Soleimani, commander of Iranian Revolutionary Guards' Quds Forces, who was killed in a U.S. drone airstrike in Iraq, in Tehran, Iran on January 06, 2019.  (Photo by Iranian Leader Press Office / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
TEHRAN, IRAN – JANUARY 06: (—-EDITORIAL USE ONLY MANDATORY CREDIT – “IRANIAN LEADER PRESS OFFICE / HANDOUT” – NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS – DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS—-) Soleimanis long-time lieutenant and the new leader of Quds Force Gen. Esmail Qaani cries over the coffin during the funeral ceremony of Qasem Soleimani, commander of Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Forces, who was killed in a U.S. drone airstrike in Iraq, in Tehran, Iran on January 06, 2019. (Photo by Iranian Leader Press Office / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Major General Ismail Qaani, who was announced as Soleimani’s successor just hours after he was killed, vowed retribution for his death on Monday.

“The revenge for Soleimani’s martyrdom is a promise given by God,” Qaani said, according to Iranian state news agency IRNA.

“We promise to continue Martyr Soleimani’s path with the same strength and his martyrdom will be reciprocated in several steps by removing the US from the region.”

The streets of Tehran are packed with throngs of Iranians young and old to pay their respects to General Qasem Soleimani, who was killed in a US drone strike last week in Baghdad, Iraq.

Iranian state media Press TV have put the number who turned out for his funeral procession as “millions,” although this is yet to be verified.

Reza Moghaddam, who was among those on Revolution Street, in front of Tehran University, said that the cross-section of Iranian society at the event was unprecedented.

“I am 36 years old and have never seen such a crowd,” Moghaddam told CNN. “The most important thing is that they come from all groups.”

“From early morning, the people had gathered. They read the Quran. And they were crying, declaring a readiness to counter Trump’s threat.”

Just weeks before, thousands of anti-government protesters had taken to the streets to voice their frustration with Iran’s leaders, as well as the crippling economic sanctions imposed on the country by the Trump administration. But widespread reverence for Soleimani, who commands a cult-like status in the country, has seemingly united Iranians — even critics of the government.

Source: CNN.com

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