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Old 01-03-2020, 01:02 AM
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Default Is this now the much-awaited war spark w. Iran?--US, Israel-first Trump kills Iran military leader

Iran’s Top Military Commander, Qasem Suleimani, Assassinated In US Airstrike

Spark could set the whole region on fire

Zero Hedge - January 2, 2020 145 Comments

Link: https://www.infowars.com/irans-top-m...-us-airstrike/

Update 3: The Pentagon has confirmed that Soleimani was killed at the direction of President Trump in what it termed a “defensive action” as per the following statement:

And while Trump has yet to make a statement, shortly after the news of Suleimani’s death, the president tweeted an American flag with no commentary:

pic.twitter.com/VXeKiVzpTf

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2020

* * *

Update 2: It’s official — unbelievable as it is — first Iraqi state TV, and then Iran TV too, announced the death of Iran’s most senior elite military commander, IRGC Quds Force chief Qasem Suleimani:

BREAKING: #IRAQ OFFICIAL TV ANNOUNCES #IRAN IRGC LEADER QASSEM SULEIMANI IS ASSASSINATED.

ALSO KILLED HEAD OF KATAIB HEZBOLLAH ABU MEHDI MUHANDIS https://t.co/K0cJn9rMIc

— Joyce Karam (@Joyce_Karam) January 3, 2020

Iran’s state TV now officially announces that #IRGC Quds force commander Major General Qassem #Soleimani was killed in an American attack in #Iraq pic.twitter.com/Nskbj1tjkF

— Ali Hashem علي هاشم (@alihashem_tv) January 3, 2020

This is the spark that could set the whole region on fire, given Suleimani is Iran’s most important, visible and powerful military leader.

#BREAKING: Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, Deputy Commander of Hashd al-Shaabi and Qassem Solaimi Commander of IRGC killed in Baghdad — Hezbollah’s Mayadeen says. pic.twitter.com/RjPMiZH7F9

— Baxtiyar Goran (@BaxtiyarGoran) January 3, 2020

Journalists are circulating graphic photos of the blast aftermath, seeking on the ground confirmation of Suleimani’s identity:

Is it the same ring or similar? Asking for expert opinion #Iraq , this is Qassim Sulaimani the Iranian leader of Quds force #Baghdad pic.twitter.com/Xe4viCWKXY

— Steven nabil (@thestevennabil) January 3, 2020

It appears Iranian officials have begun circulating condolences, acknowledging his death.

At the beginning of the last decade, when Gen. Suleimani began becoming a more visible and powerful face of influence in Iran and across the Middle East, one former CIA officer cited in a New Yorker biographical piece on him referred to the IRGC commander as the “most powerful operative in the Middle East today.”

As leader of the Revolutionary Guards’ most elite Quds force, he directed all unconventional warfare and intelligence activities abroad. For that reason Washington and Tel Aviv had long considered him threat #1 within the Iranian military command structure.

Source in #Iran tells me:
Senior Iranian diplomats are sharing Gen. Qasem Sulaimani’s photo along w/death prayers for him. #Iraq

— Farnaz Fassihi (@farnazfassihi) January 3, 2020

With war in the Middle East now virtually inevitable, here is the latest US naval deployment as of Jan 2:

* * *

update: It appears the ‘mystery’ strike which took out vehicles along the perimeter of Baghdad International Airport in the early morning hours of Friday was actually a US targeted assassination.

Reports – An “American” drone strike just killed the #PMU’s “Head of Protocol,” Mohammed Reda al-Jabri, along with 2 aides & 3 “guests” (i.e. #IRGC) on their exit from #Baghdad Airport.

If that’s accurate, the #Trump admin just ratcheted up the ante in #Iraq in a big way. pic.twitter.com/p784XmVVq7

— Charles Lister (@Charles_Lister) January 2, 2020

There are even significant but as yet completely unconfirmed rumors, some coming from of a well-known BBC Iran reporter and other regional sources, that Iran’s most senior military commander, the IRGC’s Quds Force chief Qasem Suleimani was taken out in the hit, which appears to have been an airstrike.

FWIW, there have also been denials of this – from potentially reputable sources. #Iraq https://t.co/Ik6ipMJq1g

— Charles Lister (@Charles_Lister) January 3, 2020

According to Stars and Stripes:

An early-morning strike hit the Baghdad International Airport perimeter, near the air cargo terminal, the Iraqi government said Friday.

The attack, which set two cars ablaze, apparently occurred at about 1 a.m. Social media users posted hearing the explosions, then the sounds of military aircraft.

The Iraqi defense ministry’s security information cell confirmed the strike about 45 minutes later, posting photos of the burning vehicles on its Facebook page and attributing the damage to a rocket attack.

Later, security sources told local media a strike hit two vehicles, killing Mohammed Redha, a senior member of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units — an umbrella group that includes Iran-backed Shiite militias with close ties to Iran and other militias that have fought the Islamic State group since 2014. Other PMU members and “guests” were also killed, the PMU said.

Just who those “guests” were remains the major question as huge rumors of Qasem Suleimani’s death continue to spread, however unlikely.

It true this could be the spark that ignites WWIII in the region, given Suleimani is Iran’s most important and powerful military leader.

Sources at the #Baghdad international airport tell me that “the main targets were #PMF leader Abu Mahdi Mohandis & #Iran‘s Qassem Soleimani as they were at the airport tonight”
They weren’t sure if these two got in the convoy or not.#Iraq
Can’t still confirm it 100%

— Nafiseh Kohnavard (@nafisehkBBC) January 3, 2020

* * *

earlier:

At a moment tensions are on edge after pro-Iran militia protesters attacked and set fire to the outside of the US embassy compound in Baghdad’s Green Zone earlier this week, another major incident is developing overnight.

Reuters and Al Jazeera are reporting that at least three missiles struck on or near a base that houses American and Iraqi counter-terrorism forces in the early Friday morning hours at Baghdad International Airport.

#Baghdad international airport on fire ! pic.twitter.com/D3d6Eibw7M

— Barzan Sadiq (@BarzanSadiq) January 2, 2020

All civilian flights have been canceled as US military helicopters were also seen patrolling the skies in the immediate aftermath.

Al Jazeera has cited Iraqi security sources to say that though the rocket attacks appeared to have targeted a joint US-Iraqi training base within the sprawling airport perimeter. At lease one of the projectiles landed near a passenger terminal, causing an immediate shutdown of the civilian side of the airport.

It is the second such rocket attack on the airport in under a month, after on Dec.9 four projectiles were launched on the facility, targeting the US-Iraqi base on the property.

Footage shows civilian cars outside of Baghdad Airport on fire after being hit by missile/s. Via @omartvsd #Iraq pic.twitter.com/9lTCRLqkik

— Baxtiyar Goran (@BaxtiyarGoran) January 2, 2020

Vehicles at the airport were filmed exploding as a result of the attack, and there are conflicting reports of possible civilian casualties.

Kurdistan24 journalist Barzan Sadiq has said at least one civilian was killed in the attack with more injured, as well as multiple Iraqi military personnel among the wounded.

3 Katyusha rockets in the vicinity of Baghdad International Airport near the sleeve of advisory units of the International Alliance, which is located in the vicinity of Baghdad Airport.
Civilians burn cars pic.twitter.com/GruQFI1Rva

— سيف صلاح الهيتي (@saifsalahalhety) January 2, 2020

While details are as yet unclear and unconfirmed at this point, Reuters did confirm the following per local security authorities:

Three Katyusha rockets fell on Baghdad International Airport, the military-run Security Media Cell said in a statement on early Friday.

The rockets landed near the air cargo terminal, burning two vehicles and injuring several citizens, Security Media Cell added.

Earlier in the day Defense Secretary Mark Esper put Iran and its proxies on notice, saying the US is prepared to launch “pre-emptive action” if American troops and interests come under threat.

developing…
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Old 01-03-2020, 01:46 AM
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Default Re: Is this now the much-awaited war spark w. Iran?--US, Israel-first Trump kills Iran military lead

Iran vows 'harsh' response to US killing of top general

Link: https://www.yahoo.com/news/iran-vows...kip=1578041000

Associated Press ●‎January‎ ‎03‎, ‎2020‎ ‎12‎:‎40‎ ‎AM

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iran has vowed “harsh retaliation” for a U.S. airstrike near Baghdad's airport that killed Tehran's top general and the architect of its interventions across the Middle East, as tensions soared in the wake of the targeted killing.

The killing of Gen. 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.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned that a “harsh retaliation is waiting” for the U.S. after the airstrike, calling Soleimani the “international face of resistance.” Khamenei declared three days of public mourning for the general’s death.

Iran also summoned the Swiss charges d'affaires, who represents U.S. interests in Tehran, to protest the killing. Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called the strike “an act of state terrorism and violation of Iraq’s sovereignty."

The killing, and any forceful retaliation by Iran, could ignite a conflict that engulfs the whole region, endangering U.S. troops in Iraq, Syria and beyond. Over the last two decades Soleimani had assembled a network of powerful and heavily armed allies stretching all the way to southern Lebanon, on Israel's doorstep.

The Defense Department said it killed Soleimani because he “was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region." It also accused Soleimani of approving the orchestrated violent protests at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad earlier this week.

The airport strike also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of Iran-backed militias in Iraq known as the Popular Mobilization Forces, and five others, including the PMF's airport protocol officer, Mohammed Reda, Iraqi officials said.

Trump was vacationing on his estate in Palm Beach, Florida, but sent out a tweet of an American flag.

The dramatic attack comes at the start of a year in which Trump faces both a Senate trial following his impeachment by the Congress and a re-election campaign. It marks a potential turning point in the Middle East and represents a drastic change for American policy toward Iran after months of tensions.

Tehran shot down a U.S. military surveillance drone and seized oil tankers last year. The U.S. also blames Iran for a series of other attacks targeting tankers, as well as a September assault on Saudi Arabia’s oil industry that temporarily halved its production.

The tensions are rooted in in Trump’s decision in May 2018 to withdraw the U.S. from Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers, struck under his predecessor, Barack Obama.

The 62-year-old Soleimani was the target of Friday's U.S. attack, which was conducted by an armed American drone, according to a U.S. official. His vehicle was struck on an access road near the Baghdad airport.

A senior Iraqi security official said the airstrike took place near the cargo area after Soleimani left his plane and joined al-Muhandis and others in a car. The official said the plane had arrived from either Lebanon or Syria.

PMF officials said the bodies of Suleimani and al-Muhandis were torn to pieces. A senior politician said Soleimani's body was identified by the ring he wore.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief media.

It’s unclear what legal authority the U.S. relied on to carry out the attack. American presidents claim broad authority to act without the approval of the Congress when U.S. personnel or interests are facing an imminent threat. The Pentagon did not provide evidence to back up its assertion that Soleimani was planning new attacks against Americans.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the “highest priority” was to protect American lives and interests, but that “we cannot put the lives of American service members, diplomats and others further at risk by engaging in provocative and disproportionate actions.”

“Tonight’s airstrike risks provoking further dangerous escalation of violence. America – and the world – cannot afford to have tensions escalate to the point of no return,” she said in a statement. She said Congress was not consulted on the strike and demanded it be “immediately” briefed on the situation and the next steps.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said Trump had “tossed a stick of dynamite into a tinderbox," saying it could leave the U.S. “on the brink of a major conflict across the Middle East." Other Democratic White House hopefuls also criticized Trump's order.

But Trump allies were quick to praise the action. “To the Iranian government: if you want more, you will get more,” tweeted South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham.

The killing promised to strain relations with Iraq's government, which is closely allied with both Washington and Tehran. Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi condemned the strike as an “aggression against Iraq” and a “blatant attack on the nation's dignity.”

He also called for an emergency session of parliament to take "necessary and appropriate measures to protect Iraq's dignity, security and sovereignty."

The Syrian government, which has received key support from Iran throughout the civil war, also condemned the strike, saying it could lead to a “dangerous escalation” in the region. Hassan Nasrallah, the head of the Iran-backed Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, released a statement mourning those killed in the U.S. strike, saying their blood was not wasted.

For Iran, the killing represents the loss of a cultural icon who represented national pride and resilience while facing U.S. sanctions. While careful to avoid involving himself in politics, Soleimani’s profile rose sharply as U.S. and Israeli officials blamed him for Iranian proxy attacks abroad.

While Iran’s conventional military has suffered under 40 years of American sanctions, the Guard has built up a ballistic missile program. It also can strike asymmetrically in the region through forces like Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Yemen’s Houthi rebels. The U.S. long has blamed Iran for car bombings and kidnappings it never claimed.

As the head of the Quds, or Jersualem, Force of Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, Soleimani led all of its expeditionary forces and frequently shuttled between Iraq, Lebanon and Syria. Quds Force members have deployed into Syria’s long war to support President Bashar Assad, as well as into Iraq in the wake of the 2003 U.S. invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein, a longtime foe of Tehran.

Soleimani rose to even greater prominence by advising forces fighting the Islamic State group in Iraq and in Syria.

U.S. officials say the Guard under Soleimani taught Iraqi militants how to manufacture and use especially deadly roadside bombs against U.S. troops after the invasion of Iraq. Iran has denied that. Soleimani himself remains popular among many Iranians, who see him as a selfless hero fighting Iran’s enemies abroad.

Soleimani had been rumored dead several times, including in a 2006 airplane crash that killed other military officials in northwestern Iran and following a 2012 bombing in Damascus that killed top aides of Assad. Rumors circulated in November 2015 that Soleimani was killed or seriously wounded leading forces loyal to Assad as they fought around Syria’s Aleppo.

Soleimani's killing follows the New Year's Eve attack by Iran-backed militias on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. The two-day embassy attack, which ended Wednesday, prompted Trump to order about 750 U.S. troops deployed to the Middle East. No one was killed or wounded in the attack, which appeared to be mainly a show of force.

It prompted Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to postpone his trip to Ukraine and four other countries “to continue monitoring the ongoing situation in Iraq and ensure the safety and security of Americans in the Middle East,” the State Department said.

The breach at the embassy followed U.S. airstrikes Sunday that killed 25 fighters of Kataeb Hezbollah, an Iran-backed militia operating in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. military said the strikes were in retaliation for last week’s killing of an American contractor in a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base that the U.S. blamed on the militia.

U.S. officials have suggested they were prepared to engage in further retaliatory attacks in Iraq.

“The game has changed,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Thursday, telling reporters that violent acts by Iran-backed Shiite militias in Iraq will be met with U.S. military force.
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Old 01-04-2020, 06:38 PM
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Default Re: Is this now the much-awaited war spark w. Iran?--US, Israel-first Trump kills Iran military lead

30 Years Ago, Neocons Were More Candid About Their Israel-Centered Views

Philip Weiss on May 23, 2007 4 Comments

Link: https://mondoweiss.net/2007/05/30_years_ago_ne/

A little while ago I blogged about Norman Podhoretz’s statement in 1979 that neoconservatism arose in part out of a Jewish concern that the Democratic Party wanted to scale back the military, and this represented a direct threat to Israel’s security. Yesterday I discovered a similar statement from neocon godfather Irving Kristol, writing in 1973 (in Congress Bi-Weekly, a publication of the American Jewish Congress):

Senator McGovern is very sincere when he says that he will try to cut the military budget by 30%. And this is to drive a knife in the heart of Israel… Jews don’t like big military budgets. But it is now an interest of the Jews to have a large and powerful military establishment in the United States…
American Jews who care about the survival of the state of Israel have to say, no, we don’t want to cut the military budget, it is important to keep that military budget big, so that we can defend Israel.

Fascinating. Such dramatic language; and there is no quibbling or circumlocution about the fact that American Jews have the responsibility of protecting Israel. Compare Irving Kristol’s comment to that of his son, William Kristol, when he was pushing–successfully–for the greatest disaster in recent American history, the war in Iraq. In The War Over Iraq, the book he wrote (with Lawrence F. Kaplan), Kristol made a similar point to his father’s, but in more careful terms. In reference to Saddam’s attacks on Israel, he said that the United States must "act as if threats to the interests of our allies are threats to us, which indeed they are… act as if the flouting of civilized rules of conduct are threats that affect us with almost the same immediacy as if they were occurring on our doorstep."

I sense that Bill Kristol and Irving Kristol have the exact same view of the role of the US military when it comes to Israel’s national security. The difference here is rhetorical. Irving was writing for a Jewish audience in 1973, and doing so as a mere New York intellectual, a professor and editor. Bill was addressing a wider, gentile audience, and doing so from a far more empowered position. He had been Dan Quayle’s chief of staff, he was in Washington, he had the ear of policymakers.

The moral? It took 30 years for neoconservatives to get all the way inside, and as they did so they became less explicit about their agendas.
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Old 01-05-2020, 10:53 PM
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Default Re: Is this now the much-awaited war spark w. Iran?--US, Israel-first Trump kills Iran military lead

Trump Vows Sanctions on Ally Iraq, Toughens Rhetoric on Iran

Link: https://www.yahoo.com/finance/news/t...kip=1578289794

Bloomberg ●‎January‎ ‎05‎, ‎2020‎ ‎6‎:‎49‎ ‎PM

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump warned Iran of major U.S. retaliation and threatened heavy sanctions on Iraq if American troops are forced to leave unless the country repays billions in military base construction costs.

Trump, speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One late Sunday, said going into the Middle East was the worst decision the U.S. has ever made, and that the U.S. had spent billions of dollars building a military base in the country.

“We have a very extraordinarily expensive air base that’s there. It cost billions of dollars to build. Long before my time. We’re not leaving unless they pay us back for it,” Trump told reporters while flying back from Florida. “If they do ask us to leave, if we don’t do it in a very friendly basis, we will charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen before ever. It’ll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame.”

Trump’s remarks ratchet up tensions on a day when Iraqi lawmakers voted to pursue the removal of foreign troops from the nation -- the latest fallout from the U.S. killing last week of Qassem Soleimani, an Iranian general.

Trump also doubled down on threats to Iran, saying he’s still willing to hit cultural sites among 52 targets in the event that Iran retaliates for Soleimani’s death by striking an American or U.S. facility.

“They’re allowed to kill our people. They’re allowed to torture and maim our people. They’re allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people. And we’re not allowed to touch their cultural sites? It doesn’t work that way,” Trump said. “If they do anything there will be major retaliation.”

Trump also spoke briefly about North Korea, predicting of leader Kim Jong Un: “I don’t think he’d break his word to me but maybe he will.”
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