Trump said on Wednesday there had been no US casualties and damage was minimal after Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles at the Ain al-Assad airbase in Iraq’s Anbar province and a facility in Erbil. Iran had pledged retaliatory attacks against the US for last week’s killing of Qassem Soleimani, the country’s most powerful and revered military leader, whom Washington accused of plotting imminent attacks against US forces in the region.
Iran’s Guards warn of ‘harsher revenge soon’
A Revolutionary Guards commander said Iran would take “harsher revenge soon”, Tasnim news agency reported. The agency was quoting senior commander Abdollah Araghi, speaking after Trump said on Wednesday that Iran appeared to be “standing down” after the missile strikes that did not harm any US troops in Iraq.
In a separate report, Tasnim quoted the deputy Guards head, Ali Fadavi, as saying Iranian missile attacks on US targets were a display of Iran’s military power and said US forces “couldn’t do a damn thing”.
Iran’s UN envoy dismisses any cooperation amid sanctions
Iran’s ambassador to the UN dismissed as “unbelievable” what he said was Trump’s call for cooperation given Washington was imposing sanctions on Tehran, Iran’s state news agency IRNA reported.
Majid Takht Ravanchi, in what appeared to be Iran’s first official reaction to Trump’s address after an Iranian missile attack on Iraqi bases housing US troops, was quoted as saying Washington had “initiated a new series of escalation and animosity with Iran” by killing Soleimani.
Soleimani commemoration ceremony in Tehran
A commemoration ceremony to celebrate the life of slain military commander Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, was held in Tehran, close to the official residence of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.
Al Jazeera’s Assed Baig, reporting from Tehran, said: “Iran is still in a period of religious mourning and these ceremonies usually take place three days after somebody dies, another one after seven days, then after 40 days.”
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, heads of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and representatives of Lebanon’s Hezbollah group as well as from Iraq’s political factions were in attendance, Baig reported.
Gulf stocks rise on hopes of easing US-Iran tensions
Gulf stocks rose in early trade, led by markets in Dubai and Kuwait, on optimism that tensions between the United States and Iran may be easing.
The Dubai index and Kuwait index were trading 1.3 percent higher, while the Abu Dhabi index rose 0.8 percent in early trade.
Iran not interested in war, says UN ambassador
Iran’s next move will depend on the actions of the US, Iran’s ambassador to the UN said, while calling for the removal of US forces from the region.
“Iran is not interested in war, Iran is not interested in escalation of tension in the region,” Majid Takht Ravanchi told Al Jazeera. “Increasing the tensions in the region will not be in the interest of anybody, so Iran definitely would like to have peace established in the neighbourhood and the first ingredient for peace in the region is the removal of the forces, the American forces, from our region.”
Asian shares rebound after anxiety eases
Stock markets in Asia rebounded as concerns over a potential war between the US and Iran eased. Tokyo’s benchmark gained more than 2 percent, while Shanghai, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia markets also advanced.
Investors’ anxiety subsided after it emerged that the missile attack had caused no fatalities and Trump said Iran “appears to be standing down”.
The lack of casualties “gave the markets more confidence that the Iranians had instigated little more than the intention to make a public show of force mainly to save face at home,” said Stephen Innes of AxiTrader in a report.
US to UN: We’ll take more action ‘as necessary’ to protect troops in the Middle East
The US told the United Nations that it is prepared to take additional action “as necessary” in the Middle East to protect US personnel and interests in the region.
In a letter to the UN Security Council, US Ambassador Kelly Craft said the killing of Soleimani in Baghdad on Friday was justified under Article 51 of the UN Charter.
Under Article 51, countries are required to “immediately report” to the 15-member Security Council any measures taken in exercising the right of self-defence. The US used Article 51 to justify taking action in Syria against the ISIL (ISIS) armed group in 2014.
US senators denounce ‘lack of evidence’ to justify killing of Soleimani
Utah Senator Mike Lee, who belongs to Trump’s Republican Party, has questioned the administration’s classified briefing on the killing of Soleimani, calling it “the worst” he has ever attended.
In a press conference in Washington, DC, Lee told reporters that he found it “really upsetting” that Trump’s intelligence officials refused to provide information that led to the president’s decision to order Soleimani’s killing. Republican Senator Rand Paul said he “did not learn anything from the hearing” that he had not seen in news reports, adding that prospects for diplomacy had diminished because of Trump’s action.
Meanwhile, in an interview with CNN, Democratic Senator Chris Murphy said “there was no evidence of an imminent and specific threat” from Soleimani to justify the US’s action.
“That was fairly shocking to us, the lack of evidence. Without that, the president doesn’t have the authority to take military action without coming to Congress first.”
However, most Republicans, who control the Senate, defended Trump’s decision.
PM Morrison says Australia not withdrawing troops from Iraq
Australian troops and personnel will stay in Iraq to continue their mission, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, as tensions eased following an Iranian attack on US forces there.
Speaking to reporters, Morrison added that an Australian naval vessel would travel as planned towards the Strait of Hormuz this week to help protect shipping in the area.