British ambassador arrested in Iran, U.S. State Department says
The U.S. State Department said Saturday that the British ambassador to Iran was arrested. “This violates the Vienna Convention, which the regime has a notorious history of violating. We call on the regime to formally apologize to the UK for violating his rights and to respect the rights of all diplomats,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus tweeted.
The arrest occurred during protests in Tehran, according to BBC News.
In a statement to BBC News, U.K. foreign secretary Dominic Raab said said “the arrest of our ambassador in Tehran without grounds or explanation is a flagrant violation of international law. The Iranian government is at a crossroads moment. It can continue its march toward pariah status with all the political and economic isolation that entails, or take steps to deescalate tensions and engage in a diplomatic path forwards.”
Trump calls Democrats “unhinged” and said they have defended “the life of Qassem Soleimani”
In a tweet Saturday morning, President Trump accused Democrats of “defending the life of Qassem Soleimani.” The House voted on ato prohibit Mr. Trump from engaging in hostilities with Iran without congressional approval on Thursday.
Iran’s Guard takes responsibility for downing of jetliner
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard acknowledged on Saturday it accidentally shot down a Ukrainian International Airlines passenger jet in the hours after Iran launched missile attacks on two Iraqi military bases housing American troops earlier this week. The head of the Revolutionary Guard’s aerospace division said his unit accepts “full responsibility.”
General Amir Ali Hajizadeh said on state TV that forces were on high alert, and that an officer mistook the plane for a hostile missile and made the “bad decision” to open fire, The Associated Press reported.
In a tweet on Friday evening, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani apologized for this “unforgivable mistake.”
“Armed Forces’ internal investigation has concluded that regrettably missiles fired due to human error caused the horrific crash of the Ukrainian plane & death of 176 innocent people. Investigations continue to identify & prosecute this great tragedy & unforgivable mistake,” Rouhani wrote.
Iran says it “unintentionally” shot down Ukrainian airplane
Iran announced that its military “unintentionally” shot down the Ukrainian jetliner that crashed earlier this week, killing all 176 aboard, after the government had repeatedly denied Western accusations that it was responsible.
A military statement carried by state media said the plane was mistaken for a “hostile target” after it turned toward a “sensitive military center” of the Revolutionary Guard. The military was at its “highest level of readiness,” it said, amid the heightened tensions with the United States.
“In such a condition, because of human error and in a unintentional way, the flight was hit,” the statement said. It apologized for the disaster and said it would upgrade its systems to prevent such “mistakes” in the future.
It also said those responsible for the strike on the plane would be prosecuted.
—The Associated Press
Trump officials didn’t tell Senate that Soleimani plot allegedly targeted four embassies
Administration officials who briefed senators this week on the U.S. strike that killed Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani did not tell the senators that there was also an attempt the same day to target the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) leader in Yemen, two sources familiar with the briefing told CBS News.
Senators were also not apprised of a plot to target four U.S. embassies in the region, which President Trump disclosed during an interview to air Friday evening with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham. Mr. Trump also told Ingraham that the embassy in Baghdad was “probably” among the targets.
The sources said based on what was relayed in the briefing, a plot against a U.S. embassy or embassies would be plausible. But this was not specifically disclosed by the briefers. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, CIA Director Gina Haspel, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley and acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire briefed the House and Senate on Wednesday.
U.S. unsuccessfully targeted Iranian official
The U.S. military unsuccessfully attempted to kill Abdul Reza Shahlai, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Yemen on the same day it hit Soleimani, defense officials told CBS News.
In addition to being involved in the Café Milano plot, Shahlai was involved in the killing of five American soldiers in Karbala. The Washington Post first reported on the failed attempt.
Iraqi leader asks U.S. to prepare “mechanisms” for a withdrawal
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi has asked the Trump administration to send a delegation to Baghdad to “lay down the mechanisms for implementing”. In a statement posted on his official Facebook page, Mahdi said Iraq was “keen to keep the best relations” with its allies but noted the parliament’s decision that the U.S. should “safely withdraw troops from Iraq.”
The prime minister did not give a timeline, but according to the statement, he asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on the phone Thursday “to send delegates to Iraq to lay down the mechanisms for implementing (the) Iraqi Parliament’s decision.”
Mahdi also told Pompeo “that there are American forces entering Iraq and American drones flying in its skies without permission from the Iraqi government, and that this constitutes a breach of the agreements in place.”
Ambassador says Iran intended to “send a message” with missile strike
Iran’s U.N. ambassador, Majid Takht Ravanchi, told CBS News his country is willing to step back from escalating tensions with the U.S. That stood in contrast to comments from Revolutionary Guard Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, who called this week’s strikes on two bases where hundreds of U.S. troops in Iraq are stationed the first in a series.
Ravanchi said the attack against the Iraqi bases was intended to avoid casualties and to “send a message” because Iran believes the strike that killed Qassem Soleimani originated at one of the bases, an allegation not confirmed by U.S. intelligence.
Ravanchi would not commit to a change in behavior from Iran-backed proxies. “Iran has said that as long as the U.S. does not commit any new aggression against Iran, Iran will not retaliate, but we cannot be responsible for the action of other groups in the region and beyond,” he said.
Pompeo and Mnuchin announce new Iran sanctions
In response to Iran’s missile launch on Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops, which resulted in no reports of casualties, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announcedon Iran and Iranian officials. The sanctions, Mnuchin said, will be both primary and secondary.
The U.S. has already imposed crippling sanctions on Iran, sanctions Mnuchin and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo insisted Friday are working, despite continued aggressive behavior from Iran. Specifically, Mnuchin announced 17 various sanctions meant to cut into Iran’s economy and sanctions against eight additional Iranian officials the U.S. believes were involved in the missile launch earlier this week.
“We want Iran to behave simply like a normal nation,” Pompeo said, insisting the U.S. believes these sanctions will encourage that behavior. The president had announced there would be additional sanctions earlier this week but hadn’t elaborated on that announcement.
Trump calls response to U.S. Embassy attack “the anti-Benghazi”
At aThursday night, President Trump called the response to the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad in late December “the anti-Benghazi.” He was referring to the storming of an American compound in the Libyan city of Benghazi in 2012 in which Chris Stevens, the U.S. ambassador, was killed.
“We got there very early, we saw what was happening — I saw what was happening, I said what’s all that about,” Mr. Trump said about the recent attack in Baghdad. “And that was going to be another Benghazi. Had they broken through the final panels of glass, they were breaking it, breaking it. Had they gotten through, we would have had either hundreds of dead people or hundreds of hostages. That wasn’t going to happen. And I called up our great generals, I said get them over there now.”
He said Soleimani ordered the assault on the embassy in Baghdad.
– Caroline Linton and Sarah Lynch Baldwin
White House says House vote “completely misguided”
White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said Thursday the House vote is “completely misguided” and said Mr. Trump “has the right and duty to protect this nation and our citizens from terrorism. That’s what he continues to do, and the world is safer for it.”
“This House resolution tries to undermine the ability of the U.S. Armed Forces to prevent terrorist activity by Iran and its proxies, and attempts to hinder the president’s authority to protect America and our interests in the region from the continued threats,” Gidley said.
Gidley called the strike that killed Soleimani “the right course of action.” Gidley said the strike is authorized under Mr. Trump’s “constitutional powers as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive as well as the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force.”
House passes War Powers Resolution
The House passed the War Powers Resolution, which seeks to limit Mr. Trump’s military actions against Iran. The vote passed mostly along party lines, with three Republicans joining the Democrats to vote in favor and eight Democrats voting against.
House is voting on War Powers Resolution
The House is now voting on H.Con.Res 83, the War Powers Resolution. If passed, it would bar the president from using U.S. forces in Iran or against its government or military unless there was a declaration of war or other authorization by Congress.
Congress is debating about whether the resolution is binding. Democrats are citing the 1973 War Powers Resolution, which says Congress may require the president to withdraw U.S. forces with a concurrent resolution. Republicans are citing a 1983 Supreme Court case that says bills must be signed by the president or passed on a veto override to become law.
Pompeo spoke to Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdel-Mahdi on Thursday
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke to Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdel-Mahdi on Thursday, according to a readout of the call released by the White House. According to the readout, Pompeo “underscored that, as President Trump has said, the United States will do whatever it takes to protect the American and Iraqi people and defend our collective interests.”
There was no mention of the Iraqi Parliament voting last week to remove the foreign military presence in the country.
The readout also said Pompeo repeated the U.S.’ condemnation of the Iranian missile strikes onto Iraqi bases that host Iraqi, American and coalition forces.
Trudeau: Evidence indicates plane was shot down by Iranian missile
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at a press conference Thursday that evidence indicates a Ukranian jetliner that crashed Wednesday soon after takeoff from Tehran’s airport was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile.
“We have intelligence from multiple sources, including our allies and our own intelligence,” he said.
“This may well have been unintentional,” he said.
Of the 176 people who were killed in the crash, at least 63 were Canadians.
Trudeau said the new information reinforces the need for a thorough investigation into the crash, which took place a few hours after Iran launched attacks against Iraqi military bases housing U.S. troops.
“Canadians have questions, and they deserve answers,” he said.
Trump: “We did it because they were looking to blow up our embassy”
President Trump added a new piece of information to his administration’s justification for the deadly strike that killed Soleimani, saying on Thursday, without providing evidence, “We did it because they were looking to blow up our embassy.”
He was presumably referring to the U.S. compound in Baghdad, which was the focus of angry protests by pro-Iranian demonstrators less than two weeks ago.
“We also did it for other reasons that were very obvious,” Mr. Trump continued. “Somebody died, one of our military people died, people were badly wounded just a week before. And we did it.”
The administration has claimed Soleimani was planning an “imminent” attack to kill Americans, but has declined to elaborate on specific plots or the intelligence underpinning their assertions, saying that doing so would compromise intelligence sources and methods.
U.S. officials confident Iran shot down passenger jet
U.S. officials are confident Iran shot down a Ukrainian jetliner in the hours after the Iranian missile attack on U.S. targets earlier this week, CBS News has learned.
U.S. intelligence picked up signals of the radar being turned on and satellite detected infrared blips of two missile launches, probably SA-15s, followed shortly by another infrared blip of an explosion.
The current thinking is the plane, Ukraine International Flight 752, was mistakenly targeted, CBS News’ Kris Van Cleave reports.
President Trump said Thursday it could have been a mistake.
Federal officials were briefed on this intelligence Thursday morning. A source who was in the briefing said it appears missile components were found near the crash site, Van Cleave reports.
The plane crashed in Iran Wednesday, killing all 176 people on board.
Pelosi does not believe Soleimani’s killing made U.S. safer
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the U.S. airstrike that killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani “provocative” and “disproportionate.” She said “we must avoid war” and called the “cavalier attitude” of the Trump administration “stunning.”
“I do not believe, in terms of what is in the public domain, that they have made the country safer by what they did, and that is what our responsibility is,” she said Thursday at her weekly press conference.
She said, “What happened, in the view of many of us, is not promoting peace, but an escalation.”
Pelosi spoke hours before the House is scheduled to vote on a war powers resolution intended to limit President Trump’s ability to take military action against Iran.
Senior Iranian commander says attacks aimed to “strike the enemy’s military machine”
A senior Iranian commander said Iran’s missile attacks against military bases housing American troops in Iraq aimed to “strike the enemy’s military machine,” not kill, The Associated Press reports. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, who is the head of the Revolutionary Guard’s Aerospace Force, also said the attacks, in which no one was killed, marked the beginning of a string of attacks across the region, Iranian state television reported, according to Reuters.
He said Iran simultaneously carried out a cyberattack against U.S. drone and plane navigation systems.
Relief in Tehran after Trump’s speech
While Iran’s military commanders are vowing to fight on with the goal of getting U.S. forces to leave the region, the headline in Tehran on Thursday was that — in the short term — the U.S. isn’t planning another military strike. Residents went about their business feeling safer.
One resident, Caroline,CBS News senior foreign correspondent Elizabeth Palmer she had been afraid of the prospect of an all-out war. Like millions of others in Iran, she listened to President Trump’s speech on Wednesday very closely. She said she was relieved when he said there would not be any further American attack, and she “slept very well” after his remarks.
Mr. Trump indicated Wednesday he plans no further military response against Iran in a statement intended to lower tension in the Middle East. “The fact that we have this great military and equipment, however, does not mean we have to use it,” Mr. Trump said. “We do not want to use it.”
On Iranian state-run TV, the president’s decision not to strike back was framed as a climb-down by the U.S., and a win for Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.
Iranian commander vows “harsher revenge” against U.S.
A member of Iran’s joint chiefs of staff vowed on Thursday there would be “harsher revenge” taken against the United States. Abdollah Araghi said Iran’s Revolutionary Guard “will impose a harsher revenge on the enemy in the near future,” according to the semi-official Tasnim news agency.
The general chosen to replace Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a U.S. airstrike last week, also said Thursday he would follow the same path as his predecessor.
The messages show that the U.S. can’t afford to let its guard down. They also highlight continued deep divisions inside Iranian society, CBS News senior foreign correspondent Elizabeth Palmer. Iran’s political leaders said Wednesday the Islamic Republic had “concluded” its response to America’s killing of Soleimani.
Officials release more details about Iran missile attack
Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley told reporters Wednesday that 16 short-range ballistic missiles were launched from three locations in Iran during Tuesday night’s attack. Eleven of those missiles landed at Al Asad, one landed at Erbil, and the other four failed, they said.
When asked about the theory that the Iranians were trying not to kill Americans — so that they could claim they retaliated without sparking further conflict — Milley said it was his opinion that the missiles were intended to kill soldiers at the bases.
Esper also denied reports that the U.S. was warned of the attack by Iraq, which itself was warned by Iran. He said that instead, the U.S. warned Iraq of the attack, after its intelligence systems detected preparations for Iran’s launch.
Iran letter to U.N. claims missile strikes were “self-defense”
Iran’s U.N. ambassador sent a letter to the U.N. Secretary-General and the President of the Security Council calling the missile strikes a “measured and proportionate” act of “self-defense.”
The letter states that the missile strikes were targeted at the military base where the attack against Iranian General Soleimani was launched, and said, “The operation was precise and targeted military objectives thus leaving no collateral damage to civilians and civilian assets in the area.”
The letter comes as U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said through a spokesperson that he is concerned about the impact the conflict between the U.S. and Iran could have on the people of Iraq.
“It is our common duty to make every effort to avoid a war in the Gulf that the world cannot afford. We must not forget the terrible human suffering caused by war. As always, ordinary people pay the highest price,” U.N. Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters. “For the Secretary-General, it is important that everyone respect the sovereignty and unity of Iraq.”
What Iran’s citizens are hearing from state TV
News outlets in Iran on Wednesday talked up the country’s Tuesday night missile launches and downplayed President Trump’s announcement that there had been no casualties in the attack.
Some local media still falsely claim that 80 Americans were killed. Hardliners are framing the U.S.’s decision to not retaliate for the strikes as backing down.
But behind the talk, there’s widespread relief in the country. Iran had made it clear that it wasn’t seeking war, although Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said the onus is now on the U.S. to stop it’s “adventurism in the region.”
Republican senator slams briefing on drone strike that killed Soleimani
Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah excoriated a briefing from top Trump administration officials on the targeted drone strike that killed General Qassem Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s elite Quds Force. Lee called it the “worst briefing” he’s received on a military issue in his nine years in the Senate.
Lee said it is “not acceptable” for officials from the executive branch to tell the Senate that they can’t “debate and discuss the appropriateness of military intervention against Iran.”
“It’s un-American, it’s unconstitutional, and it’s wrong,” he added.
Pence says Americans are “safer today” after Soleimani’s death
Vice President Mike Pence said he believes Americans are “CBS Evening News” anchor Norah O’Donnell.” after President Trump ordered a strike that killed Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani. Pence addressed fears of an increasing conflict with Iran during an interview with “
“Everybody who’s related to one of those soldiers stationed in the Middle East is worried. Are we safer now?” O’Donnell asked.
“I believe we are safer today than before President Trump ordered our military to take out Qassem Soleimani,” Pence said.
“One might say that taking out Soleimani is like taking a baseball bat to a hornet’s nest and those hornets are Iranian proxies. Proxy groups. Are you convinced that they won’t come after Americans?” O’Donnell asked.
“Well, the challenge we face now is that Qassem Soleimani was in fact the primary leader of those Iranian sponsored militias across northern Iran and their influence in Syria as well, but we’re sending a very clear message as we did with those five airstrikes to militia bases… that we will not tolerate violence,” Pence said.
“But he didn’t act alone. Did he act with the blessing of the Ayatollah? The supreme leader?” O’Donnell asked.
“There’s no question,” Pence said.
What are Iran’s military capabilities?
Iranand insists it does not want to develop any. The Trump administration, however, says Iran does want to obtain a nuclear weapons capability and Mr. Trump has personally vowed not to let that happen. The direct military threat that Iran poses to the U.S. and its allies in the Middle East is with its conventional weapons. The missiles that hit the Iraqi bases on Tuesday night appear to have been small in scale relative to Iran’s capability.
Iran also has proxies around the Middle East — groups that are not officially part of the state apparatus but which work to advance Iran’s interests and receive direct support from Tehran. These groups include the Badr Organization and Kataeb Hezbollah in Iraq, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen, Syrian Hezbollah in Syria, and groups in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Gaza Strip.
Senate Democrats criticize briefing on Soleimani strike
Senate Democrats slammed a briefing held by top administration officials on last week’s targeted strike that killed top Iranian military commander Qassam Soleimani, saying the information did not describe an “imminent threat” to U.S. troops and diplomats.
“I was deeply surprised at the lack of information presented by the administration regarding a specific imminent threat,” Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, said. “This appears to me to be a strike of choice by this administration, one that likely would’ve required congressional authorization beforehand.”
Murphy told reporters the briefing lasted 75 minutes, leaving senators with “multiple questions unanswered.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters only 15 of the 97 senators in attendance were able to ask questions of the administration officials before it ended. “We did not see a plan, a satisfying plan for the future,” Schumer said, adding that “as the questions began to get tough, they walked out.”
Pelosi: House will vote on war powers resolution Thursday
Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Wednesday that the House would vote on a war powers resolution Thursday that would limit President Trump’s military actions regarding Iran. The legislation is sponsored by Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, a freshman Democrat, and will be considered in the Rules Committee on Wednesday night.
“Members of Congress have serious, urgent concerns about the Administration’s decision to engage in hostilities against Iran and about its lack of strategy moving forward,” Pelosi said in a statement. “Our concerns were not addressed by the President’s insufficient War Powers Act notification and by the Administration’s briefing today.”
Pelosi also said the House may also soon consider legislation to repeal the 2002 authorization for the use of military force in Iraq, sponsored by Congresswoman Barbara Lee, and Congressman Ro Khanna’s legislation to “prohibit funding for military action against Iran not authorized by Congress.”
Picture shows Trump and Pence in White House Situation Room
The White Housea picture Wednesday that shows President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in the White House Situation Room on Tuesday night. Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, national security adviser Robert O’Brien and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are also seen in the photo.
U.S. had “multiple hours” of warning before Iran attack, official says
A Defense official said Wednesday that the U.S. had “multiple hours” of warning of Iran’s attack, plenty of time for troops to take shelter in bunkers. This warning came from a combination of satellites and signals and communications intercepts — the same systems that watch for North Korea’s missile tests.
Most of Iran’s missiles are liquid-fueled, which take longer to get ready for launch and are easier to spot. The actual launch is detected by infrared satellites, which can see the plumes and predict the trajectory.
U.S. intelligence started looking for signs of preparations for an attack on the military bases after receiving reports that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had told his national security council he wanted a direct attack by Iran on American interests.
No serious consideration given to preemptive Iran strike, official says
There was no serious consideration given to launching a preemptive strike to take out Iran’s missiles before they were launched, according to a Defense official. The U.S. did not have the capability to shoot down the incoming missiles Tuesday night because there are no Patriot missile batteries in Iraq.
Until the killing of General Qassem Soleimani, the mission was to defeat ISIS, which has no ballistic missiles.
House Dems hedge on war powers resolution vote this week
House Democrats hedged on whether the lower chamber will vote this week on a measure intended to limit President Trump’s military actions regarding Iran.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday the House would hold a vote this week on a war powers resolution following the targeted strike that killed Qassem Soleimani.
But House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters Wednesday, “You’re going to see it as soon as we believe it is prepared to move forward on.”
“It’s going to be sooner rather than later,” he said.
Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said at a weekly press conference a vote on the resolution was “an ongoing discussion as to the appropriate timing.”
“There is no time frame, as I understand it, in terms of it absolutely taking place over the next day or two,” he said.
– Melissa Quinn and Rebecca Kaplan
Trump: “As long as I am president of the United States, Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon”
Addressing the nation for the first time after Iran’s missile attack on U.S. troops in Iraq,said he would not allow the Iranian regime to obtain nuclear weapons and indicated he was willing to de-escalate the situation in the Middle East. “As long as I am president of the United States, Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon,” Mr. Trump said.
He also slammed the Iran nuclear deal, from which the U.S. withdrew in 2018, and called on allies to leave it. “They must now break away from the remnants of the Iran deal,” Mr. Trump said. He suggested that he would be willing to make a new deal with Iran “that makes the world safer.”
He said “Iran can be a great country” if it stops sponsoring terrorism in the Middle East.
Trump announces fresh sanctions on Iran
announced Wednesday the U.S. will impose “powerful sanctions” on Iran, which will remain in place until the regime changes its behavior. He said no Americans were harmed in Tuesday night’s attack and “only minimal damage was sustained at our military bases.”
He said Iran appeared to be standing down.
Mr. Trump also touted increased military spending under his administration and called on NATO to help the U.S. in its diplomatic efforts with Iran.
He finished his remarks by speaking directly to the people of Iran. “We want you to have a future, and a great future, one that you deserve,” he said. “The United States is ready to embrace peace with all who seek it.”
Top Republicans call for unity after Iran attacks Iraqi bases
Top House Republicans called for political unity Wednesday after Iran’s retaliatory missile strikes against two Iraqi military bases that house U.S. troops, urging their Democratic counterparts to put partisanship aside to support President Trump.
“Hopefully during a time like this we can all come together, not as Republicans and Democrats, but as Americans who recognize that a brutal terrorist who killed hundreds of Americans and was planning to kill even more is gone from this planet because of the bold action of President Trump,” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana said at a weekly press conference. “It’s time to be united in that.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California lauded Mr. Trump for taking action against Iran and said it was “very clear” he had to do so, especially following the death of an American contractor in an Iran-backed attack on a Iraqi military base last month.
“I think all of Congress should speak with one voice at moments like this to send a very clear message around the world that we defend Americans here and abroad,” he said.
McConnell: “We must remain vigilant in the face of serious threats posed by Iran”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell addressed the strikes by Iran in a speech on the Senate floor Wednesday, saying he was “troubled but not surprised” by Iran’s actions.
“We must remain vigilant in the face of serious threats posed by Iran,” McConnell said. He condemned the Obama administration for not doing more to stop Iran from developing its long-range ballistic missile program. He also said that American interests were not the only ones harmed by Iran’s actions.
“Last night was another stark reminder that Iran and its proxies have been a cancer on Iraq’s sovereignty and Iraq’s politics for a long time,” McConnell added.
McConnell said he spoke to Mr. Trump last night, and was grateful for the president’s “patience and prudence” in determining how to respond.
“I hope Iran’s leaders do not miscalculate by questioning our collective will,” McConnell said, taking a shot at Democrats for questioning the wisdom of striking Qassem Soleimani.
“The notion that our administration is to blame for Iranian aggression…That’s nonsense, utter nonsense,” he said.
A “carefully calibrated” Iranian strike
It appears Iran launched a “carefully calibrated” attack on the Iraqi bases, said retired Admiral Sandy Winnefeld, former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a CBS News military and homeland security analyst.
He said on “CBS This Morning” that the ballistic missiles Iran used appear to have been fairly accurate weapons, suggesting that if they had wanted to inflict severe casualties, they could have.
CBS News national security correspondent David Martin said there were still no reports of casualties, and there was speculation among Pentagon officials – only speculation, he stressed — that the Iranians could have deliberately aimed to miss U.S. troops on the ground.
Martin noted that there was enough of a warning of the missile launch to give American troops time to take cover.
The ball is back in Trump’s court
President Trump’s decision about how to respond to the attack is likely to determine whether the current crisis with Iran keeps escalating toward war or calms down.
Just hours before the missile strikes, Mr. Trump issued another warning to Tehran, saying that “if Iran does anything that they shouldn’t be doing, they’re going to be suffering the consequences, and very strongly.”
But it was still unclear early Wednesday whether the president would deem the seemingly ineffective attack on the Iraqi bases as warranting a strong military response.
CBS News White House correspondent Weijia Jiang reported that Mr. Trump was at the White House late Tuesday night with his national security team, including Vice President Mike Pence, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien.
Pompeo has been a main voice in the administration’s defense of the strike that killed Soleimani and has long advocated for aggressive action in the region. He helped champion what he calls the “strongest maximum pressure campaign in history” against Iran.
Jiang said Mr. Trump now finds himself walking a fine line with his political base; he campaigned on a promise to get U.S. troops out of “forever wars,” and thus far his administration has yet to provide evidence to support his decision to escalate a conflict with Iran.
Iraqi leader says Iran alerted them about strikes
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi’s office said Wednesday that Iran had notified Baghdad that it was taking revenge against the U.S. killing of an Iranian general with missile strikes targeting American forces inside Iraq, as the missile salvo from Iran began or shortly before.
“Shortly after midnight on Wednesday 8/1/2020, we received an official oral message from the Islamic Republic of Iran that the Iranian response to the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani had begun, or (was) about to begin shortly, and that the strikes would be limited to sites where U.S. forces are deployed, but without identifying these sites,” the statement posted to the prime minister’s Facebook page said.
“Simultaneously, the American side contacted us as the missiles were falling on the wing of the American forces at Ain al-Assad base in Anbar, Harir base in Erbil, and in other locations,” the statement from Mahdi’s office said.
The statement concluded by saying Mahdi was reaching out to his own subordinates and external partners to try to contain the situation and avert a full-scale conflict.
Ayatollah touts “slap” to U.S.
Iran’s supreme leader touted his country’s missile strike against Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops as a “slap” to the Americans in retaliation for the U.S. strike that killed a senior Iranian commander last week. But Ayatollah Ali Khameni said Iran’s real revenge would be forcing the U.S. to leave the region.
“They (America) were struck with such a slap last night,” Khamenei told a large crowd in Tehran chanting the familiar “death to America” refrain.
“Military action like this is not sufficient,” he said. “What is important is ending the corrupting presence of America in the region.”
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani echoed the supreme leader’s comment, saying Iran’s “real revenge and the ultimate response by regional nations is when America is expelled from this region and its hand of aggression is cut off forever.”
After a meeting of Iran’s cabinet on Wednesday morning CBS News senior foreign correspondent Elizabeth Palmer asked Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif what it would take to start de-escalating the current crisis.
“It is up to the United States to now come to its senses and stop its adventurism in this region,” Zarif said.
Still no reports of casualties
There were conflicting reports early Tuesday about where the Iranian missiles that targeted an airbase used by U.S. forces in the northern Iraqi city of Erbil actually landed, but there were still no reports of casualties from that attack or the more significant barrage that hit a base in western Iraq.
CBS News’ team on the ground said one missile appeared to have landed inside the perimeter of Erbil’s international airport, where the U.S. air base is located, but local media said it failed to explode. Local Kurdish authorities would not permit CBS News to get close to this missile.
At least one other missile landed near the town of Bardarash, about 30 miles from Erbil, but caused no damage. There were reports that a possible third missile fell about 12 miles from Erbil airport, but it was unclear whether it had exploded.
The Iraqi military said all of its troops were safe after 17 missiles hit the Ain al-Asad base, including two that failed to explode.
U.K. condemns attack on bases
Britain’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Wednesday that the U.K. condemned the Iranian attack on military bases in Iraq, noting that British forces use the facilities along with their American coalition counterparts.
“We urge Iran not to repeat these reckless and dangerous attacks, and instead to pursue urgent de-escalation,” Raab said in a statement distributed by the Foreign Office.
He warned that “a war in the Middle East would only benefit Daesh (ISIS) and other terrorist groups.”
Trump on Iran attacks: “All is well!”
In his first tweet since Iran launched the attacks, President Trump assured the public that “All is well!”
“Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq,” Mr. Trump wrote. “Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good! We have the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world, by far! I will be making a statement tomorrow morning.”
Graham: “This was an act of war” from Iran
Senator Lindsey Graham, a staunch supporter of the president and an outspoken hardliner on Iran, called the ballistic missile strike by Iran “an act of war … by any reasonable definition” and said Mr. Trump has “all the authority he needs under Article II to respond.”
Article II of the Constitution names the president as “commander in chief” of the armed forces, although Article I states that the power to declare war resides with Congress.
Speaking to Fox News anchor Sean Hannity on Tuesday, Graham also said he spoke to Mr. Trump on the phone Tuesday evening, and he had a message for the Iranian regime: “Your fate is in your own hands in terms of the regime’s economic viability. If you continue this crap, you’re going to wake up one day out of the oil business.”
Graham said the world just learned that “President Trump can go from zero to 60 pretty fast.”
Iran’s foreign minister: “We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves”
Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said on Twitter Tuesday that the country “took & concluded proportionate measures in self-defense.” He added that “we do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression.”
Zarif’s defense of Iran’s attack cited “Article 51 of the U.N. Charter.” CBS News’ Pamela Falk says Zarif was referring to Chapter VII of the U.N.’s founding document, which states that a nation has an inherent right to use force in self defense if an armed attack occurs.
Zarif justified the attack by saying it targeted the base from which the attack against Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani was launched.
Zarif’s remarks, saying Iran does not seek an escalation but will defend itself, echoed comments made by U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper before the Tuesday night missile attack. He said the U.S. was not looking to start a war with Iran, but that it was prepared to finish one.
Iran missile attack “crosses a red line”
The ballistic rocket attack by Iran on two Iraqi military bases “crosses a red line” for the U.S. and is likely to lead to retaliation, CBS News correspondent David Martin said on CBSN.
“And the question really is: is the retaliatory strike going to be limited in scope to just the missile base, for instance, which fired these missiles? Or is it going to be a much broader attack which goes after the headquarters of the Iranian revolutionary guards, for instance, since that is the military unit that launched the strikes?” Martin said.
The Pentagon has not yet released any reports on casualties or damage caused by the strikes. However, Martin said the Trump administration might take these attacks as a justification for further conflict, even if there are no U.S. casualties.
The U.S. has been warning for days that Iran would be held responsible for any attack against American interests, said Martin.
“I think the red line has been crossed, regardless of whether there were American casualties. This was a direct attack on U.S. troops. That’s a cause for war. If U.S. troops were killed or injured, I think that would increase the scope of what the U.S. plans to do in retaliation,” Martin said.
FAA issues flight restrictions over parts of the Middle East
The Federal Aviation Administration has issued flight restrictions that “prohibit U.S. civil aviation operators from operating in the airspace over Iraq, Iran, and the waters of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.”
“The FAA will continue closely monitoring events in the Middle East,” the organization wrote. “We continue coordinating with our national security partners and sharing information with U.S. air carriers and foreign civil aviation authorities.”
Trump will not address the nation Tuesday
President Trump will not address the nation Tuesday on the missile strikes targeting the Iraqi military bases, two senior administration officials told CBS News. — Fin Gomez and Major Garrett
1,500 U.S. and coalition forces housed at Al Asad
The Al Asad airbase houses about 1,500 U.S. and coalition forces. The base was already on high-alert before the attack and paused their operation against ISIS several days ago fearing a revenge attack by Iran.
Iran has largest ballistic arsenal in Middle East
“Iran has the largest and most diverse ballistic arsenal in the Middle East, and a substantial inventory of close-range ballistic missiles, short-range ballistic missiles, and medium-range ballistic missiles that can strike targets throughout the region up to 2,000 kilometers from Iran’s borders,” according to an assessment in November 2019 by the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency.
“Tehran is also a major proliferator of ballistic missile technology to regional state actors and proxy groups,” the assessment said. “Iran continues to attempt to increase the lethality, reliability and accuracy of its missile force.”
Trump briefed on attacks
White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said that the White House is “aware” of the reports and that President Trump has been briefed. Vice President Mike Pence has also been briefed, his press secretary said on Twitter.
Mr. Trump and Melania toured Al Asad, one of the bases targeted in the attack, during a surprise Christmas visit to troops in 2018. It was Mr. Trump’s first trip to Iraq and his first visit to a combat zone as commander-in-chief.
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps claims responsibility for Al Asad attack
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a unit of Iran’s military, claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement Tuesday evening.
“The brave soldiers of IRGC’s aerospace unit have launched a successful attack with tens of ballistic missiles on Al Assad military base in the name of martyr Gen. Qasem Soleimani,” the group said.
Pelosi and Schumer notified of strike
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was informed of the rocket attacks when a note was brought in during a House Democratic meeting. Pelosi informed the assembled members and said they should pray for the American men and women in the military, according to Representative Debbie Dingell.
Pelosi’s spokesman also tweeted that she spoke with Vice President Mike Pence.
“.@SpeakerPelosi returned a phone call to @VP at 6:34 p.m. tonight after her required presiding over the House at 6:30 p.m,” her spokesman, Drew Hammill, tweeted. “The Vice President briefed the Speaker on the Iranian attacks on facilities housing U.S. troops in Iraq.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer received a call from Pence at 6:15 p.m., a spokesperson for the senator said.
Trump says he likes “to obey the law” when asked about Iranian cultural sites
When asked whether he was still considering targeting Iranian cultural sites at a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Tuesday, President Trump said he liked to “obey the law.”
“They’re allowed to kill our people, they’re allowed to maim our people, they’re allowed to blow up everything that we have, and there’s nothing that stops them. And we are, according to various laws, supposed to be very careful with their cultural heritage. And you know what? If that’s what the law is, I like to obey the law,” Mr. Trump said.
“But think of it — they kill our people, they blow up our people, and then we have to be very gentle with their cultural institutions. But I’m ok with it. It’s ok with me,” he added. “I will say this: If Iran does anything that they shouldn’t be doing, they’re going to be suffering the consequences, and very strongly.”
Mr. Trump’s comments come after he appeared to threaten Iran’s cultural sites in a tweet on Saturday. The director general of the United Nations’ cultural agency, UNESCO, said Monday that both Tehran and Washington had signed a 1972 convention obliging states not to undertake “any deliberate measures which might damage directly or indirectly the cultural and natural heritage” of other states.
Biden says the only way out of Iran crisis is diplomacy
Former Vice President and Democratic presidential hopefuldelivered remarks in New York on Tuesday amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran following the airstrike that killed top Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani.
Biden criticized President Trump for having “no strategy” and “no endgame.” He said that the president’s “constant mistakes” and poor decision-making have left the U.S. with limited options.
The former vice president argued that the only way out of the Iran crisis is through diplomacy.
“No one wants war,” he said, adding that it would take hard work to make sure the U.S. doesn’t end up there “by accident.”
The remarks gave Biden the chance to flex his foreign-policy chops at a time when the U.S. is bracing for possible retaliation from Iran following Soleimani’s death.
Pentagon chief says attack Soleimani was planning was “days” away
Defense Secretary Mark Esper said an attack General Qassem Soleimani was planning against Americans was expected to happen within days, not weeks, of last week’s drone strike. “I think it’s more fair to say days, for sure,” Esper told reporters during a briefing at the Pentagon on Tuesday.
The administration justified killing Soleimani by saying he posed an imminent threat to Americans, but no specific details have been released about the attack he was plotting. Esper told CBS News national security correspondent David Martin the U.S. “should expect” Iran to retaliate for the drone strike in some way.
“We’re not seeking war with Iran,” Esper said. “I think what happens next depends on them … we’re prepared for any contingency.”
Esper said the U.S. has been watching recent movements by Iran’s military, but he wouldn’t go into more detail. “We watch them very closely,” he said. “We see their movements. I don’t want to get more into that because it starts to get into intelligence issues.”
Iran’s military displaying “heightened state of readiness,” U.S. defense official says
A U.S. defense official called Iranian military movements “very troubling.” Iran has not yet moved its ballistic missiles into firing position, but its military has increased its ability to move on short notice.
There is “a wide range of activities of a heightened state of readiness … that indicate Iran is considering going forward with an attack, most likely against American forces,” the official said.
Death toll in stampede raised to at least 56
The death toll in the stampede at General Qassem Soleimani’s funeral has increased to at least 56 people. State TV reported the increase, with 213 injured, citing Pirhossein Koulivand, head of Iran’s emergency medical services.
There was no information as to what had set off the stampede. Online videos showed people lying apparently lifeless, their faces covered by clothing. Emergency crews performed CPR on others as people wailed in the background, crying out to God.
The stampede took place in Kerman, Soleimani’s hometown, as the procession began, said the semi-official Fars and ISNA news agencies, citing Koulivand. Soleimani’s burial was later delayed, with no new time given.
– Associated Press
Pompeo defends killing of Soleimani
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo continued Tuesdayof the targeted missile strike that killed senior Iranian general Qassem Soleimani. He insisted that Mr. Trump was right to order the killing and sarcastically dismissed any suggestion that Soleimani might have been in Iraq for peaceful purposes.
“Is there any history that would indicate that it was remotely possible that this kind gentleman, this diplomat of great order, Qassem Soleimani, had traveled to Baghdad for the idea of conducting a peace mission?” Pompeo asked reporters at the State Department. “We know that wasn’t true.”
Pompeo warned that if Iran were to make another “bad choice,” he was confident Mr. Trump would respond “as he did last week, in a decisive, serious manner.”
U.S. military trainers heading out of Iraq
U.S. Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison said Tuesday that the Trump administration and its partners in the transatlantic military alliance “remain committed to the #NATO training mission in Iraq and the fight against ISIS” in the face of increasing pressure from Iraqi politicians to withdraw U.S. forces.
America’s counter-ISIS operations have been halted in Iraq and all forces refocused to defend against any Iranian retaliation for the U.S. killing of top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani last week. A senior U.S. official told CBS News national security correspondent David Martin that while training operations have been suspended, the U.S. personnel carrying out that mission were being moved out of Iraq to Kuwait.
The official said the operational headquarters of the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq would remain in the country, and noted that some of the trainers being moved out of the country were being replaced with soldiers deployed this week from the Army’s 82nd Airborne division based at Fort Bragg.
Hutchison said in a tweet that the U.S. would “continue to support a safe & prosperous future for the Iraqi people and we look forward to resuming NATO’s on-the-ground training with Iraqi forces once the situation permits.”
“Chaos” and pride for families of deploying troops
CBS News correspondent Chip Reid haswhose partners are among the 3,000 additional U.S. forces being deployed to the Middle East to protect against any revenge attacks by Iran or its proxies.
Reid said the family members of troops serving in the Army’s 82nd Airborne division at Fort Bragg know they always have to be ready to deploy in less than 18 hours. It means a lot of stress for the loved ones, but also a lot of pride in what they do for their country.
Rachelle Hertle and her husband Sergeant Alexander Hertle were visiting family in Ohio when he got the call to head to the Middle East a few days ago.
She said it sparked “chaos.”
“The previous two deployments were all planned, and so we had time to get ready. This one was, this one threw us for a loop,” she said.
“I cannot imagine leaving my children, and I know that it breaks his heart,” she said, tearing up. “But this is what we decided as a family that we would do, that we would be a military family.”
Ayatollah wants direct attack on U.S. interests
A senior U.S. official told CBS News national security correspondent David Martin on Tuesday that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has ordered a direct attack on American interests in retaliation for the airstrike that killed his top military commander and friend Qassem Soleimani.
The official said the U.S. military was “extremely concerned” that the retaliation could come quickly. As Martin reported on Monday, American officials believe the next 24 hours or so, following Soleimani’s burial, could reveal whether Iran intends to make good on its threats to retaliate.
Asked by CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer on Tuesday when the Iranian response would come, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif would only say that his country would retaliate at the time of its choosing.
The primary concern remains Iran’s ballistic missiles, officials have told Martin. As of Monday evening those weapons had not been moved into firing positions, but the alert status was raised so they were prepared to move and could be fired in substantial numbers within 24 hours. Moving them could also mean they are simply being dispersed as a defensive measure, Martin noted.
American forces in Iraq, and their allies in that country, Israel and across the region are all easily within reach of Iran’s missiles.
Stampede delays burial of slain general
A deadly stampede at the funeral ceremony for slain general Qassem Soleimani forced officials in Iran to postpone his burial on Tuesday.
“Unfortunately as a result of the stampede, some of our compatriots have been injured and some have been killed during the funeral processions,” Pirhossein Koulivand, the head of Iran’s emergency medical services, said earlier. At least 40 people were killed and about 200 injured according to Iran’s official state media.
In delaying Soleimani’s burial, authorities cited concerns about the massive crowd that had gathered, the semi-official ISNA news agency said. No date was announced for the rescheduled burial.
Iran says it will retaliate against “legitimate targets”
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarifon Tuesday that his country would retaliate for the U.S. strike that killed a top Iranian general, but he said that “unlike Trump” has threatened to do, the Islamic Republic would respond in a proportionate manner “against legitimate targets.”
Zarif would not tell Palmer what constituted, in the minds of Iran’s leaders, a legitimate target, nor when Iran would launch its retaliation.
The U.S.-educated diplomat blasted the Trump administration as “a regime that has no respect for international law, threatens to commit war crimes — attacking cultural sites, which is a war crime.”
It was a reaction to Mr. Trump’s threat over the weekend to attack 52 sites identified as targets inside Iran should the country retaliate for the U.S. airstrike that killed Major General Qassem Soleimani on Friday. Mr. Trump has insisted that the U.S. would be within its rights to strike “cultural sites” in Iran.
Zarif said the U.S. killing of Soleimani was “an act of war done in a terrorist, cowardly operation, and Iran will take an appropriate response… Action by the U.S. has consequences that will happen, and I believe it has already started.”
He pointed to the Iraqi parliament’s work on legislation that would force American troops to withdraw from the country as evidence of the first consequence of Mr. Trump’s “maximum pressure” policy on Iran: ‘Maximum pressure is dead, as is the U.S. presence in our region.”
Dozens killed in stampede at Soleimani funeral
Iranian state television said 32 people were killed and about 190 more injured in a stampede that erupted at a funeral procession for a general slain in a U.S. airstrike.
The TV said the stampede erupted in Kerman, the hometown of Gen. Qassem Soleimani where the procession was underway on Tuesday.
A procession in Tehran on Monday drew over 1 million people in the Iranian capital, crowding both main thoroughfares and side streets in Tehran.
— The Associated Press
Iran threatens to “set ablaze” U.S. allies
The leader of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard threatened on Tuesday to “set ablaze” places supported by the United States over the killing of a top Iranian general in a U.S. airstrike last week, sparking cries from the crowd of supporters of “Death to Israel!”
Hossein Salami made the pledge before a crowd of thousands gathered in a central square in Kerman, the hometown of the slain Gen. Qassem Soleimani. His vow mirrored the demands of top Iranian officials – from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to others – as well as supporters across the Islamic Republic, demanding retaliation against America for a slaying that’s drastically raised tensions across the Middle East.
Mourners in Kerman dressed in black carried posters bearing the image of Soleimani, a man whose slaying prompted Iran’s supreme leader to weep over his casket on Monday as a crowd said by police to be in the millions filled Tehran streets. Although there was no independent estimate, aerial footage and Associated Press journalists suggested a turnout of at least 1 million, and the throngs were visible on satellite images of Tehran taken Monday.
The outpouring of grief was an unprecedented honor for a man viewed by Iranians as a national hero for his work leading the Guard’s expeditionary Quds Force.
— The Associated Press
Firm guarding U.S. diplomats in Baghdad could go bankrupt
A defense firm that provides security services to diplomats entering and exiting the U.S. Embassy in Iraq is nearing bankruptcy, according to a new report from credit ratings firm Moody’s.
Moody’s said the contractor, Constellis Holdings, could enter court supervision by early February, although a bankruptcy isn’t assured. The company, which has piled on debt over the past decade and now has liabilities of more than $1 billion, missed a debt payment on December 31, putting it in default, according to both Moody’s and credit rater Standard & Poor’s.
Although Constellis doesn’t guard the U.S. Embassy facility in Baghdad, it does provide security for diplomats and others entering and exiting the building. The status of its contract with the embassy in Iraq hasn’t changed, according to a person close to the company. Constellis offers similar protection services in 30 countries around the world to governments and private businesses.
“Constellis plans to continue to operate our business, execute our business strategy and meet our obligations to our stakeholders,” a company spokesperson said in a statement to CBS Moneywatch.
Esper says U.S. military has “no plans to leave” Iraq
In a briefing with reporters at the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Mark Esper responded to reports that the U.S. command in Iraq had informed its Iraqi counterparts of plans to withdraw from the country.
Numerous media outlets reported an unsigned letter purporting to come from the U.S. commander in Iraq informing the Iraqis of the military’s plans to prepare for “onward movement” out of the country. The letter said the move was pursuant to a resolution by the Iraqi Parliament calling for the U.S. to leave.
But Esper categorically denied the U.S. planned to withdraw.
“There has been no decision whatsoever to leave Iraq. Period,” he said. “We’ve issued no plans to leave.”
Esper said he doesn’t know where the letter originated, but said he read it and called it “inconsistent with where we are right now.”
Soon after Esper made that statement, Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley returned to the briefing room and told reporters that he’d heard from CENTCOM commander Kenneth McKenzie, who told him the letter was a draft being circulated for input, including from the Iraqis. Milley also said the letter discussed a repositioning of troops, not a withdrawal.
U.S. officials to brief congressional leaders Tuesday
Administration officials will brief congressional leaders on Tuesday about the strike that took out Soleimani, with additional sessions for all lawmakers set for Wednesday, sources familiar with the matter tell CBS News.
Tuesday’s briefing will include the so-called “Gang of Eight” — leaders from both parties in the House and Senate, and the chairs and ranking members of the two intelligence committees.
Wednesday’s briefings will be open to all members from both chambers and will be conducted by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley and CIA Director Gina Haspel.
Democrats have criticized the administration for not notifying congressional leaders about Friday’s airstrike in advance and for failing to brief lawmakers sooner.
Iran’s president: “Never threaten the Iranian nation”
Hassan Rouhani, president of the Islamic Republic, responded to President Trump’s threat to target 52 sites if Iran retaliates for the Soleimani strike. Mr. Trump said the number was a reference to 52 Americans who were held hostage in Iran for 444 days between 1979 and 1981, after the revolution.
Rouhani issued his response on Twitter, with a warning to “never threaten the Iranian nation”:
Rouhani’s reference to 290 and IR655 is a reference to, a passenger jet that was shot down by U.S. missiles over the Persian Gulf in 1988. All 290 people on board were killed.
The U.S. acknowledged the incident as a “terrible human tragedy” and agreed to pay $131.8 million in a settlement with Iran before the International Court of Justice in 1998.
U.N. secretary general warns of “profound risk of miscalculation”
At the United Nations, Secretary General António Guterres spoke to reporters about the escalating tensions in Iran and Iraq, although he did not mention either by name.
“The New Year has begun with our world in turmoil,” the U.N. chief said. “Geopolitical tensions are at their highest level this century. And this turbulence is escalating.”
“This cauldron of tensions is leading more and more countries to take unpredicted decisions with unpredictable consequences and a profound risk of miscalculation,” he added, warning of a deepening of the crisis.
An advocate for the 2015 Iran nuclear deal that is now in jeopardy, Guterres said “even nuclear nonproliferation can no longer be taken for granted.”
“We see increased social unrest and growing extremism, nationalism and radicalization,” he continued. “This situation cannot go on.”
Guterres said he had a “simple and clear” message for all parties involved: “Stop escalation.”
The Security Council is unlikely to take action regarding the airstrike the killed Soleimani, according to U.K. Deputy Ambassador Jonathan Allen. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif was expected to speak on Thursday at a debate on peace and security, but it remains unclear whether the U.S. will issue a visa allowing him to attend.
U.S. blasts Russia and China for blocking Security Council statement
The U.S. sharply criticized Russia and China for blocking the United Nations Security Council from issuing a statement protesting last month’s attack on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq.
The U.S. Mission to the U.N. said Monday it “should not be controversial or warrant courage” to underscore the obligations of a host country under the 1961 Geneva Convention to protect diplomatic premises.
The U.S. statement says it “would not tolerate attacks on U.S. personnel and facilities and will respond decisively to protect our interests, citizens, and allies.”
The U.S. said the council’s failure to issue a statement calls its credibility into question.
— The Associated Press
UNESCO calls for protection of cultural sites
Both Iran and the United States must observe a convention obliging states to preserve cultural sites, the United Nations cultural agency said on Monday after President Trump threatened to target Iranian cultural sites.
UNESCO director general Audrey Azoulay said at a meeting with the Iranian ambassador to the organization that both Tehran and Washington had signed a 1972 convention obliging states not to undertake “any deliberate measures which might damage directly or indirectly the cultural and natural heritage” of other states.
Mr. Trump appeared to ignore the international law when he threatened in a tweet over the weekend to target 52 sites inside Iran, which he said included cultural sites if the Islamic Republic retaliated for the American airstrike that killed a top Iranian general last week.
CBS News White House correspondent Ben Tracy said Mr. Trump’s senior counselor Kellyanne Conway was evasive on Monday when asked about the president’s threat, arguing that she couldn’t address “hypotheticals” and suggesting the president could have been referring to sites that were both cultural and military.
“Secretary Pompeo said yesterday that we will be within the law,” she said. “I think that Iran has many military, strategic military sites that you may cite, are also cultural sites.” She did not elaborate on what the 52 sites were that the administration has identified as possible targets.
Mr. Trump’s administrationlast year, citing “concerns with mounting arrears at UNESCO, the need for fundamental reform in the organization, and continuing anti-Israel bias.”
Trump vows Iran won’t get a nuke
President Trump renewed his vow on Monday never to allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon.
U.S. presidents have made that vow repeatedly since before Mr. Trump took office, but his tweet on Monday came hours after Tehran said it was abandoning the most crucial parts of the 2015 international nuclear deal.
Mr. Trump pulled the U.S. out of that pact unilaterally in 2018, a move which precipitated the current spiraling crisis with the Islamic Republic.
Since the Trump administration abandoned the deal, Iran has steadily abandoned individual commitments it agreed to under the accord. But the announcement over the weekend that Tehran would no longer abide by limits on its enrichment, the amount of stockpiled enriched uranium it has or nuclear research and development was the most serious departure from the compact negotiated by former President Obama.
Tehran did not elaborate on what levels it would immediately reach with its nuclear program, and it noted that its abandonment of the 2015 deal’s terms was reversible.
Last summer, as it began to pull away from the deal, Iranto enrich uranium beyond the 3.67% purity permitted under the pact. Possessing uranium enriched beyond 3.76% — especially if it purified part of its stockpile to the next major technical benchmark of 20% — would greatly reduce the time necessary for Iran to “break out” from its civilian nuclear program and start working toward nuclear weapons capability.
Just a day later Iranian officials said they had successfully enriched uranium to about 4.5%, and threatened to hit the 20% mark.
Iran’s arch-rival Saudi Arabia appeals for calm
Saudi Arabia is a key U.S. ally with close ties to the Trump White House, and the Sunni Muslim-ruled kingdom is also an arch-rival of Shiite-led Iran. Iran has been engaged for years in a proxy war with Saudi Arabia in Yemen, where Tehran backs Shiite separatists known as Houthis fighting the Saudi- and U.S.-backed government.
That conflict has already seen, so with Iran threatening multi-faceted retaliation against the U.S. for its targeted killing of Major General Qassem Soleimani last week, it’s no wonder the Saudis are worried.
“We are very keen that the situation in the region doesn’t escalate any further,” Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister said Monday.
“It’s certainly a very dangerous moment and we have to be conscious of the risks and dangers not just to the region but to wider global security,” Prince Faisal bin Farhan said in Riyadh. “We hope that all actors take all the steps necessary to prevent any further escalation and any provocation,” he said.
France warns U.S. actions only benefit ISIS
The U.S. military’s decision to put the war on ISIS on hold will only strengthen the resurgent terrorist group’s insurgency campaign in Iraq, some of America’s European allies are warning. The U.S.-led coalition in Iraq announced the halt to anti-ISIS operations on Sunday, citing the need to redirect efforts toward defending against any further Iranian-backed attacks in the country following the U.S. killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.
Cabinet ministers in France and Germany warned Monday that ISIS would be the only ones to benefit from the turmoil caused by Soleimani’s killing in the Friday airstrike.
U.S. troops have been confined to their bases, are not interacting with their Iraqi counterparts and have hunkered down to protect themselves from any revenge attacks by Iran or its proxy groups in Iraq.
American forces have been crucial in the fight against ISIS, but now many in Iraq’s parliament want them expelled over the strike that killed Soleimani. Without U.S. support, the fear is that Iraq’s own security forces could crumble in the face of a resurgent ISIS, as they did in 2014.
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Monday in a radio interview that “you must always ask who is served by and who profits from this instability. The instability in the Mideast today benefits only one organization: the Islamic State group.”
He added that the instability would “increase the terrorist threat over France and Europe” and that “all tensions always affect global economic growth.”
3,000 more U.S. troops head for the Middle East
More than 3,000 additional U.S. troops were headed for the Middle East on Monday to bolster defenses in case Iran makes good on its threat to retaliate for the Trump administration’s targeted killing of a top general.
CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reported Monday that some U.S. military commanders had not been in favor of killing Soleimani, on the grounds that Iran would feel compelled by its national honor to strike back, increasing the likelihood of a war nobody wants.
But the White House has stood by its decision to kill Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani in an airstrike last Friday, calling him a “terrorist” with the blood of hundreds of Americans on his hands and accusing him of plotting new attacks against U.S. personnel in the region. Mr. Trump personally is standing by his vow to target up to 52 significant sites inside Iran — including non-military cultural sites — should the Islamic Republic retaliate for the strike.
The fear of an all-out conflict with Iran continued to mount in the wake of that threat, and Iran warning of “painful consequences” for the strike that killed Soleimani.
Germany’s Merkel to visit Putin in Russia
German Chancellor Angela Merkel will travel to Moscow on Saturday to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin amid growing tensions in the Middle East and elsewhere. Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said Monday that the chancellor will discuss “current international questions” with Putin. Those will include Syria, Libya, Iran, Iraq, Ukraine and bilateral issues.
Seibert said that “Russia is an important player on the world stage and as a permanent member of the (U.N.) Security Council it’s indispensable when it comes to solving conflicts in the world.” Germany is currently a non-permanent member of the Security Council.
Germany and Russia are among the world powers that have been trying to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran after the U.S. withdrew from the agreement unilaterally in 2018.
NATO to meet as China and Russia criticize U.S.
NATO summoned its ambassadors to Brussels for an extraordinary meeting on Monday as the transatlantic alliance sought to address the rapidly rising tension in the Middle East following America’s targeted killing of Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani.
The gathering of America’s most vital allies will come amid mounting criticism from abroad of the Trump administration’s decision to kill Soleimani citing a vague threat to U.S. personnel in the region, and of Mr. Trump’s subsequent threat to hit Iraq with sanctions if that country decides to boot American forces.
China accused the U.S. on Monday of aggravating tension in the Mideast through military interventionism and warned the Trump administration not to abuse its power on the world stage. Russia had already condemned the strike on Soleimani and warned that it could carry “grave consequences for the regional peace and stability.”
Ahead of the NATO ambassadors’ meeting, meanwhile, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called Mr. Trump’s threat to impose sanctions against Iraq “not very helpful” as the world tries to calm the mounting tension in the region.
“I don’t think you can convince Iraq with threats, but with arguments,” Maas told a German radio show on Monday. He warned that years of international efforts to rebuild Iraq “could all be lost” if the situation continues to escalate.
Khamenei weeps over slain general’s casket
Weeping amid wails from a crowd of at least hundreds of, Iran’s supreme leader on Monday prayed over the remains of a top Iranian general killed in a U.S. airstrike in Baghdad, an attack that’s drastically raised tensions between Tehran and Washington.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei prayed over the caskets of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani and others slain in the attack. Khamenei, who had a close relationship with Soleimani, wept at one point during the traditional Muslim prayers for the dead.
Soleimani’s replacement has already vowed to take revenge. In addition, Tehran has abandoned the remaining limits of its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers in response to the slaying. And in Iraq, the parliament has called for the expulsion of all American troops from Iraqi soil.
— The Associated Press
Trump says White House “may discuss” releasing intelligence on Soleimani
Answering questions from reporters before boarding Air Force One, Mr. Trump justified his tweets on attacking Iranian cultural sites.
“They’re allowed to kill our people,” Mr. Trump said. “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.”
When asked if he was worried about retaliation from Iran, “if it happens it happens. If they do anything there will be major retaliation.”
Mr. Trump said the White House “may discuss” releasing the intelligence on Soleimai. Mr. Trump said there had been surveillance on Soleimani “very specifically for 18 months,” but really since the beginning of Mr. Trump’s term.
“He was leading his country down a very bad dangerous path,” Mr. Trump said.
” on Sunday that the Trump administration will “do our best” to explain to the public the details of threats to American diplomats and service members that justified the strike.
House Foreign Affairs Committee responds to Trump’s tweet
The House Foreign Affairs Committee tweeted a response to Mr. Trump’s tweet threatening to “quickly and fully strike back” if Iran retaliates.
“This Media Post will serve as a reminder that war powers reside in the Congress under the United States Constitution. And that you should read the War Powers Act. And that you’re not a dictator,” the House Foreign Affairs Committee tweeted.
The powerful Foreign Affairs Committee is chaired Representative Eliot Engel, a New York Democrat who has said he will oppose military action by the Trump administration not sanctioned ahead of time by Congress. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who has tweeted she is introducing a “War Powers Resolution” to “prevent an illegal war with Iran,” is also on the Committee.
Trump threats to “quickly and fully strike back” if Tehran retaliates for Soleimani killing
President Trump threatened to “quickly and fully strike back” if Iran retaliates against the United States for the drone strike that killed top Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani and warned any response from the U.S. may be “disproportionate.”
“These Media Posts will serve as notification to the United States Congress that should Iran strike any U.S. person or target, the United States will quickly & fully strike back, & perhaps in a disproportionate manner. Such legal notice is not required, but is given nevertheless!” Mr. Trump tweeted Sunday.
The president appeared to suggest his tweets would serve as official notice to Congress of lethal force against Iran.
The White House on Saturday provided Congress with formal notification of the airstrike against Soleimani. The strike has sparked debate among some lawmakers as to whether Mr. Trump had the legal authority to use lethal force against the leader of Iran’s Quds Force or if congressional authorization was needed.
Iran says it will abandon limits on nuclear program
Iranian state television reports that the country will no longer abide by any of the limits of the 2015 nuclear deal. The announcement came Sunday night after another Iranian official said it would consider taking even-harsher steps over the U.S. killing of Soleimani.
State TV cited a statement by Iranian president’s administration saying the country will not observe limitations on its enrichment, the amount of stockpiled enriched uranium as well as research and development in its nuclear activities. It did not elaborate on what levels it would immediately reach in its program.
The International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations watchdog observing Iran’s program, could not be immediately reach for comment. — The Associated Press
Pompeo: U.S. will “do our best” to release intelligence
The Trump administration will “do our best” to explain to the public the details of threats to American diplomats and service members that justified the strike that killed Qassem Soleimani, leader of Iran’s elite Quds Force, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday.
“We understand the obligation to share with the American people why it is we’re taking the action we can and we will do so,” Pompeo said on “Face the Nation.” “President Trump has done so in tweets. I have done so in messages.”
The White House sent Congress on Saturday a formal notification of the strike as required under the War Powers Act. The document, however, was classified, prompting a stinging rebuke from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who said the notification “prompts serious and urgent questions.”
But Pompeo said the details of the threat against Americans have been shared with Congress and congressional leadership, and lawmakers will be able to see “most all of that same information” when they return to Washington this week.
“I don’t think any reasonable American elected official would see what President Trump and I and Secretary [Mark] Esper saw and conclude that we could’ve done anything but the action that we took,” he said, referring to the secretary of defense.
Iraqi Parliament calls for ouster of U.S. military
Lawmakers in Iraq’s Parliament voted Sunday in favor of a resolution that calls for ending foreign military presence in the country. The resolution asks the Iraqi government to end the agreement under which Washington sent troops more than four years ago to help fight ISIS. The bill is nonbinding and subject to approval by the Iraqi government, but has the backing of the outgoing prime minister.
Speaking to lawmakers in Parliament, Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi said that after the killing of Soleimani, the government has two choices: End the presence of foreign troops in Iraq or restrict their mission to training Iraqi forces.
“As a prime minister and supreme commander of the armed forces, I call for adopting the first choice,” Abdul-Mahdi said.
Abdul-Mahdi resigned last year in response to the anti-government protests that have engulfed Baghdad and the mostly Shiite southern provinces. Political factions have been unable to agree on a new prime minister, and Abdul-Mahdi continues in a caretaker capacity.
Pompeo said the U.S. is “following very closely what’s taking place in the Iraqi Parliament.”
— The Associated Press
U.S. military pauses anti-ISIS operations
The military says it is pausing operations against ISIS fighters in Iraq to focus on protecting coalition forces inside the country. The Combined Joint Task Force leading U.S. efforts announced the suspension on Sunday.
“Repeated rocket attacks over the last two months by elements of Kata’ib Hezbollah have caused the death of Iraqi Security Forces personnel and a U.S. civilian,” the task force said in a statement, referring to the Iraqi militia backed by Iran. “As a result we are now fully committed to protecting the Iraqi bases that host Coalition troops.”
“This has limited our capacity to conduct training with partners and to support their operations against Daesh and we have therefore paused these activities, subject to continuous review,” the statement continued, using an alternative name for the terrorist group.
The task force said the U.S. remains “resolute as partners of the Government of Iraq and the Iraqi people that have welcomed us into their country to help defeat ISIS.”
Pelosi calls for “immediate, comprehensive briefing” of full Congress
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a statement Saturday night saying the classified War Powers notification “prompts serious and urgent questions about the timing, manner and justification of the Administration’s decision to engage in hostilities against Iran.”
Pelosi raised concerns about the document being classified, and called for an “immediate, comprehensive briefing” of the full Congress.
“The Trump Administration’s provocative, escalatory and disproportionate military engagement continues to put servicemembers, diplomats and citizens of America and our allies in danger,” Pelosi’s statement said. “This initiation of hostilities was taken without an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against Iran, without the consultation of the Congress and without the articulation of a clear and legitimate strategy to either the Congress or the public.”
Trump tweets “warning” about Iranian retaliation
President Trump tweeted Saturday night that the U.S. has targeted “52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago)” for attack if Iran retaliates for Soleimani’s death. “Let this serve as a WARNING,” Mr. Trump wrote.
In a series of tweets, Mr. Trump wrote that Iran is “talking very boldly about targeting certain USA assets as revenge.” Mr. Trump said the sites targeted include “some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD.”
House and Senate receive formal notification
The House and Senate have received formal notification of the Soleimani strike under the War Powers Act.
“We are acting consistent with the statute’s outline, but like all administrations since the law went into effect, we don’t believe it is constitutional or that it requires us to do anything,” a senior administration official told CBS News about sending the notification.
White House to notify Congress of Soleimani strike under War Powers Act
The White House will send formal notification to Congress about the airstrike that killed Soleimani under the War Powers Act, CBS News has confirmed. Congress is required under the War Powers Act to received notification within 48 hours of a strike that could lead to war.
News of the notification was first reported by The New York Times. According to the Times, there likely will be a public portion of the notification and a classified portion.
Sources say mortar lands in Baghdad
Sources told CBS News that a mortar hit near the compound of the al-Jadriah Palace in Baghdad on Saturday. It hit outside the Green Zone, which is where foreign embassies including the U.S. Embassy are located. The sources say no one was injured.
Security heightened in U.S. following airstrike
Law enforcement agencies across the country are deploying additional patrols and urging civilians to be vigilant, CBS News’ Kenneth Craig reports. In a statement Friday, acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said the Department of Homeland Security is assessing potential new threats against the U.S., and that the department stands ready.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced heightened police presence around the city. Additional officers have been deployed at key landmarks like the UN building.
Other cities, like Philadelphia, are following suit. Lincoln Financial Field will see increased security measures for the Philadelphia Eagles’ playoff game on Sunday.
Police at Los Angeles International Airport, however, say they have not made any adjustments to security protocols due to the lack of a credible threat.
Meanwhile, U.S. military units are on high alert to protect some American embassies in Africa and the Middle East. Security alerts are issued for U.S. embassies in Bahrain, Kuwait and Nigeria.
Iran expert calls strike on Iranian general “stunningly” stupid and counterproductive
An expert on Iran called the U.S. airstrike that killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani this week “stunningly” stupid and counterproductive.
“It was a stunningly, can I say, stupid and counterproductive move on the part of the United States. And we’re going to pay the price of this, and the people of the Middle East will pay the price for this for years to come,” said Barbara Slavin, director of the Future of Iran Initiative at the Atlantic Council, a think tank.
Slavin said in an interview with “CBS This Morning: Saturday” that she sees winners and losers from the strike.
“Winners from this are ISIS, al Qaeda, Sunni fundamentalists that hate Iran as well as the United States, Russia, China, which will become more powerful in the Middle East,” Slavin said.
U.S. men’s soccer team moves training from Qatar to Florida
“Due to the developing situation in the region, U.S. Soccer has decided to postpone traveling to Qatar for the Men’s National Team’s scheduled January training camp,” U.S. Soccer said Friday in a statement.
It later said the men’s team will open its annual January training camp at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
“We are working with the Qatar Football Association to find an opportunity in the near future for our team to experience Qatar’s world-class facilities and hospitality,” it said.
Iran is in a three-day period of mourning
Iran on Friday declared three days of public mourning following the death of Soleimani, whose body will be returned to Iran for a burial in his hometown following a funeral, BBC News reports.
On Saturday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani visited Soleimani’s home in the Iranian capital to express his condolences.
“The Americans did not realize what a great mistake they made,” Rouhani said, according to The Associated Press. “They will see the effects of this criminal act, not only today but for years to come.”
Billboards showing Soleimani and vowing “harsh revenge” against the U.S. were seen on major streets in Iran on Saturday, the AP reported.
Mourners march in funeral procession through Baghdad
Thousands of people were marching Saturday in a funeral procession through Baghdad for Soleimani and Iraqi militant leaders who were killed in Friday’s strike. Streets were packed with sadness, shock and anger, CBS News correspondent Ian Lee reports from Iraq’s capital.
The procession started in Baghdad at one of the most revered sites among Shiite Muslims, the Imam Kadhim shrine, The Associated Press reports. Mourners, who carried Iraqi flags and flags of militias backed by Iran, were also mourning senior Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
People chanted “No, No, America” and “Death to America, death to Israel.”
Even Iraq’s Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi was seen among the crowd, while in Iran, protesters had tears in their eyes and “Death to America” on their lips. For many there, Soleimani was a symbol, a folk hero, now enshrined in martyrdom.
U.S. national security adviser claims strike was “fully authorized” under 2002 resolution
President Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, claimed Friday night that the strike was “fully authorized” under the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution.
“This was something that was — the president felt was necessary to do,” O’Brien said on a call with reporters. “The president exercised America’s clear, inherent right of self-defense to counter this threat. It was a fully authorized action under the 2002 — under the AUMF, and was consistent with his constitutional authority as Commander-in-Chief to defend our national, and our forces against attacks like those that Soleimani has directed in the past and was plotting now.”