VIDEO: Trump says Iran appears to be 'standing down' after strike - GulfToday

VIDEO: Trump says Iran appears to be 'standing down' after strike

This still image from a video shows rockets launched from Iran against the US military base in Ein-al Asad in Iraq. AFP

The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said it was closely following regional developments, and reaffirmed the importance of de-escalating current tensions.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Ministry stressed the importance of dialogue and political solutions in the current situation.

It also confirmed that recent developments will not affect citizens, residents, or visitors to the UAE.

The Ministry said that all sectors across the country continue to operate as normal.

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi received word from Iran that its response to the US killing of its top general was either imminent or under way, his spokesman said on Wednesday.

Iranian forces fired missiles at military bases housing US troops in Iraq in retaliation for the US killing of the Iranian general, raising the stakes in its conflict with Washington amid concern of a wider war in the Middle East.

"Shortly after midnight on Wednesday we received a verbal message from the Islamic Republic of Iran that the Iranian response to the assassination of the martyr Qassem Soleimani had started or was about to start," his spokesman said.

Tehran told Abdul Mahdi it would only target locations where US forces were present but did not specify the locations, the spokesman said in a statement.

President Donald Trump faces one of the greatest tests of his presidency after Iran launched ballistic missiles at Iraqi bases housing US troops. It was Iran's most brazen direct assault on America since the 1979 seizing of the US Embassy in Tehran.

Pentagon rejects Trump threat to hit Iranian cultural sites

56 killed, 200 injured in stampede at the funeral for Soleimani slain in US strike

The strikes pushed Tehran and Washington perilously close to war, and put the world's attention on Trump as he weighs whether to respond with more military force. The president huddled with his national security advisers on Tuesday night, but offered no immediate indication of whether he would retaliate. He said in a tweet that "All is well!” and announced plans to address the nation on Wednesday morning.

The Iranian strikes came days after Trump authorised the targeted killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran's elite Quds Force. Iran had pledged to retaliate, though its actions did not appear to result in any American casualties, according to a US official. The missiles targeted two bases - one in the northern Iraqi city in Irbil and the other at Ain Al Asad in western Iraq.

Pakistan says won't be part of regional conflict

A lack of US casualties could give Trump an opening to de-escalate the mounting tensions with Iran and pull the nation back from the brink of war. Trump, who is facing reelection at the end of the year, campaigned for president on a promise to keep the United States from engaging in "endless war."

Iranian mourners gather for the burial of Qasem Soleimani in his hometown Kerman. AFP

Still, Trump's rhetoric in recent days has been menacing. Just hours before Tuesday's missile strikes, the president told reporters in the Oval Office: "If Iran does anything that they shouldn't be doing, they're going to be suffering the consequences, and very strongly."

Democrats called on Trump avoid a military escalation with Iran.

Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the administration needs to quickly "extricate us from what could lead into a full-fledged war with terrible casualties.” Engel said he feared the situation ”spirals out of control."

The fallout for Trump's order to kill Soleimani has been swift.

Iraq-Najaf Members of riot police are seen in Najaf, Iraq.  File/ Reuters

Iran announced that it would no longer be bound by the 2015 nuclear agreement and vowed to retaliate against the US, its allies and American interests. Iraq's parliament also voted to expel US troops from Iraq, which would undermine efforts to fight Daesh militants in the region and strengthen Iran's influence in the Mideast.

The counterattack by Iran came as Trump and his top advisers were under pressure to disclose more details about the intelligence that led to the American strike that killed Soleimani.

Trump said Tuesday that his decision saved American lives and that members of Congress would get a briefing on the reasons for the US attack.

"They were planning something,” he said of the Iranians.

So far, Trump and top national security officials have justified the airstrike with general statements about the threat posted by Soleimani, who commanded proxy forces outside Iran and was responsible for the deaths of American troops in Iraq.

But the details have been scarce.

Trump says ‘All is well!’

Iran launched missiles at US-led forces in Iraq on Wednesday in retaliation for the US drone strike on an Iranian commander whose killing last week stoked fears of a new Middle East war.

Iranian state television said Iran had fired 15 missiles at US targets in Iraq early on Wednesday. The US military said at least two Iraqi facilities hosting US-led coalition personnel were targeted at about 1:30am Iraq time (2230 GMT on Tuesday). Iraq said 22 missiles were fired.

India issues travel warning

India on Wednesday issued a travel warning asking its citizens to avoid "non-essential" travel to Iraq, hours after Iran launched missile attacks on U.S.-led forces in Iraq.

Iran's attack came in retaliation for a U.S. drone strike on an Iranian commander whose killing has raised fears of a war in the Middle East.

Emirates Airline, Flydubai cancel flight to Baghdad

Dubai-based Emirates Airline cancelled a return flight to Baghdad on Wednesday following Iran's missile attack on US-led forces in Iraq.

United Arab Emirates airline flydubai cancelled a flight to Baghdad on Wednesday after Iran earlier launched missile attacks on US led forces in Iraq.

Its flights to the Iraqi cities of Basra and Najaf would operate on Wednesday, the airline said.

"We are liaising with the relevant authorities and continue to monitor the situation closely."

US FAA bans airlines from flying over Iraq

The US Federal Aviation Administration said it would ban US carriers from operating in the airspace over Iraq, Iran, the Gulf of Oman and the waters between Iran and Saudi Arabia after Iran launched a missile attack on US-led forces in Iraq.

Several foreign airlines said they would now avoid flying over the affected areas.

Philippines orders evacuation of Filipinos from Iraq

The Philippine government said on Wednesday that it has ordered the mandatory evacuation of Filipino workers from Iraq and the coast guard said it is sending a vessel to the Middle East to ferry its citizens to safety in case hostilities between the United States and Iran worsen.

The Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila said the government has raised the alert level in Iraq to the highest level, requiring Filipinos to leave the country due to escalating security risks. Filipinos can leave on their own or escorted out with the help of their employers or the Philippine government.

Norway, Danish armed forces say no staff hurt

No Norwegian and Danish soldiers were injured or killed in Wednesday's missile strike on the Al-Asad air base in Iraq, the Danish armed forces said in a post on Twitter.

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