US-Iran escalation looms after Soleimani killing

Funeral processions to honour Qassem Soleimani, head of Iran’s elite Quds Force who was killed in a United States air raid in Baghdad have begun in the Iranian city of Ahvaz early on Sunday, hours after his remains arrived from Iraq.

Soleimani was killed along with Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of Iraq’s Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF, or Hashd al-Shaabi), an Iran-backed umbrella organisation comprising several militias. Several other people were also killed in Friday’s attack.

The move by the US has drawn condemnation from leaders and officials who fear that tensions in the region could escalate drastically. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei warned that “a harsh retaliation is waiting”.

On Saturday, US President Donald Trump threatened to hit 52 Iranian sites “very hard” if Iran attacked US citizens or assets.

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