US-Iran tensions Live News Updates: Amid high tensions between US and Iran, multiple rockets were fired inside Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, its Jadriya neighbourhood, and the Balad airbase housing US troops on Saturday, 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.
Earlier today, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) on Saturday suspended training of Iraqi forces to ensure the safety of several hundred mission members. While France urged Tehran to stick to a landmark nuclear accord at the risk of falling apart, China said that the United States should stop “abuse of force” and engage in dialogue instead. “The dangerous US military operation violates the basic norms of international relations and will aggravate regional tensions and turbulence,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said during a call with his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif.
On Saturday morning, Iranian Commander Abuhamzeh said Iran will punish the Americans wherever they are within Tehran’s reach, mentioning that Tel Aviv and 35 vital US bases are actually within their reach. Meanwhile, thousands in Baghdad marched to mourn Iran’s slain military commander Qassem Soleimani, Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and others killed in the US airstrike on Friday.
Tensions soared between the US and Iran after fresh airstrikes by the US targetted Iraqi militia convoy took place in the north of Baghdad on Saturday early morning. “Airstrikes targeting Iraq’s Popular Mobilisation Forces umbrella grouping of Iran-backed Shi’ite militias near camp Taji north of Baghdad have killed six people and critically wounded three, an Iraqi army source said late on Friday. Two of the three vehicles making up a militia convoy were found burned, the source said, as well as six burned corpses. The strikes took place at 1.12am local time, he said,” news agency Reuters reported.
US-Iran tensions: Thousands in Baghdad attend General Qassem Soleimani’s funeral march. Follow LIVE Updates
Following this, close US ally Britain warned its nationals to avoid travelling to parts of Iraq and Iran. After yesterday’s attack, Iran vowed “harsh retaliation” whereas, the US had announced it would send more troops to the region. The US Embassy in Baghdad had also urged American citizens to depart Iraq following escalating tensions over the Iranian commander death.
India said it had “noted that a senior Iranian leader had been killed by the US”, urged restraint and called for de-escalation. The terse statement on the attack masked the deep unease about how far the ripples from this sharp spike in US-Iran tensions will extend across the region, and impact India.
The Associated Press reported new details on the latest airstrike in Iraq which it attributes to an Iraqi official who says the strike hit two cars and killed five members of the Iran-backed militia they were carrying. The unnamed official said the identities of those killed are unknown.
The salvo comes a day after a US drone strike that killed top Iranian general Gen Qassem Soleimani – an act of aggression which Iran has promised to avenge.
The killing of General Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, marks a major escalation in the standoff between Washington and Iran, which has careened from one crisis to another since President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal and imposed crippling sanctions.
Whereas, for India, one part of that question was answered after Iran warned of retaliation, with jitters on Dalal Street over the potential for an oil shock. The stock market fell by over a hundred points, but more telling was the rupee’s 38-paise drop around the same time to Rs 71.74 to the US dollar. India’s oil import bill in 2018-19 was $111.9 billion. And the new geopolitical tensions could not have come at a worse time, when the economy is crawling at 4.5 per cent GDP growth in Q2 this fiscal year.
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