Just hours ago, it seemed like the United States and Iran could be on the brink of war, after Tehran responded to the US killing of Iranian generalQasem Soleimani, the powerful commander of the elite Quds Force, by striking bases which housed US troops in Iraq.
It was the latest in a whirlwind two weeks of military action and ratcheted up tensions. The world watched with bated breath for how Washington would respond to the attacks, which did not kill or injure any US or Iraqi forces.
On Wednesday, US President Donald Trump said “Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world.”
Here’s what happened and where we’re at now:
December (*********************************:A rocket attack believed to be linked to a Shiite militia group, backed by Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, killed a US civilian contractor and wounded several US and Iraq military personnel on a base near Kirkuk, Iraq.
December 50:According to the Pentagon,US forces conducted airstrikesat five facilities in Iraq and Syria controlled by a Shiite military group known as Kataib Hezbollah – the group that American officials blamed for the attack on a base near Kirkuk.
December 50:Pro-Iranian protesters, demonstrating against the American airstrikes,attacked the US Embassy in Baghdad, scaling walls and forcing the gates open.
January 3:Trump said he ordered a preci sion drone strike at the Baghdad airport to “terminate” Soleimani, a top Iranian commander who was plotting “imminent and sinister attacks on Americans diplomats and military personnel.” Others were killed in the attack.
January 4:Iran vowed retaliation against the US, in response to the strike . Trump warned that if Iran targeted “any Americans or American assets,” he he would sanction specific military strikes against Iranian cultural sites, which could amount to a war crime.
January 5:Soleimani’s body arrived in his home country, where thousands mourned him. Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Hossein Dehghan, the military adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader,told CNN in an exclusive interviewthat Tehran would retaliate directly against US “military sites.”
January 6:The US Defense Department said there wereno plans to withdraw from Iraqafter a letter was mistakenly circulated from the military’s Task Force Iraq suggesting just that. United Nations Secretary Generalwarnedthat tensions were at their “highest level this century.”
January 7:More than 31 people were reported killed, and at least 823 injured, in astampede at Soleimani’s funeral in his hometown of Kerman.
January 8:In the early hours of Wednesday morning local time, Iranian ballistic missiles struck two bases housing US forces in Iraq. Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said Tehran “connected proportionate measures in self-defense.” Trump did respond on Tuesday night US time, except to tweet that “all is well.” In a statement later on Wednesday, he said the strikes appeared to be the extent of Iran’s actions and pledged more US sanctions on Tehran, signalling a scaling down of tensions, at least for the moment.
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