Iranian demonstrators react during a protest in front of UN office in Tehran. Reuters
A fresh air strike hit pro-Iran fighters in Iraq early on Saturday, as fears grew of a proxy war erupting between Washington and Tehran a day after an American drone strike killed a top Iranian general.
The killing of Quds Force commander Major General Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad on Friday was the most dramatic escalation yet in spiralling tensions between Iran and the United States, which pledged to send more troops to the region — even as President Donald Trump insisted he did not want war.
Iran's ambassador to the United Nations, Majid Takht Ravanchi, told CNN that the killing was an "act of war on the part of the United States".
A new strike on Saturday targeted a convoy belonging to the Hashed Al Shaabi, an Iraqi paramilitary network dominated by Shiite factions with close ties to Iran.
The Hashed did not say who it held responsible but Iraqi state television reported it was a US air strike.
A police source told AFP the strike left "dead and wounded," without providing a specific toll. There was no immediate comment from the US.
It came hours ahead of a planned a mourning march for Soleimani, who was killed alongside Hashed number two Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in the precision drone strike.
As head of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps' foreign operations arm, Soleimani was a powerful figure domestically and oversaw wide-ranging Iranian involvement in regional power struggles -- and anti-US forces.
Trump said the 62-year-old, who had been blacklisted by the US, had been plotting imminent attacks on American diplomats.
His assassination has rattled the region, with Iraqis fearing a proxy war between Washington and Tehran.
Thousands of supporters of Iraqi armed factions close to Iran had massed at the embassy on Tuesday in outrage over US air strikes that killed 25 pro-Iran fighters at the weekend.
The leader of the main opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, also called for de-escalation, and urged Britain to "stand up to the belligerent actions and rhetoric coming from the United States."
There was no information what set off the crush. Online videos show people lying apparently lifeless, their faces covered by clothing.
"US citizens should depart via airline while possible, and failing that, to other countries via land," the embassy said in a statement. The US strike hit outside Baghdad airport early Friday but security sources told the media it was still open to flights.
Police inspector Rajiv Singh said that last week the gang stole 16 idols from the 300-year-old temple of Lord Balaji — an incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu — police said.
Sheikh Mohamed accepted the condolences of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of the Republic of Turkey; Sadyr Japarov, President of the Kyrgyz Republic; and Julius Maada Bio, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, over the passing of the late Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed said on Twitter, “With his enduring wisdom and generosity, my brother Khalifa Bin Zayed was the heart of our family and the guardian of our nation."