Posted on January 5, 2020, 11:31 AM IST
After the attack and assassination of Soleimani by the US fear and anger has gripped the Middle East with the chances of deadly retaliation. It has been reported that tens of thousands of Iraqis, including Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi, political leaders and clerics attended a mass ceremony on Saturday to honour Soleimani and the other victims.
The unruly crowd waved white Hashed flags and massive portraits of Iranian and Iraqi leaders, wrathfully calling for "revenge" and chanting "Death to America!" The remains of the ones slain were moved from Baghdad to the shrine city of Karbala and then Najaf, where the Iraqis will be buried and from whose airports the Guards are to be flown to Iran.
Tehran has slammed the strike as an "act of war" and Abdel Mahdi said it could bring "devastating" violence to Iraq. Meanwhile, the world powers are quickly calling in for a de-escalation.
President Donald Trump warned on Saturday that the US may target 52 sites in Iran and will hit them "very fast and very hard" if the Islamic republic attacks American personnel or assets.
In a tweet defending Friday's drone strike assassination of a top Iranian general in Iraq, Trump said 52 represents the number of Americans held hostage at the US embassy in Tehran for more than a year starting in late 1979.
Trump said some of these sites are "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. The USA wants no more threats!"
Trump took to Twitter after pro-Iran factions amped up demands on US installations across Iraq with missiles and warnings to Iraqi troops part of an outburst of fury over the killing of Soleimani. The attack has prompted fears of a major conflagration in the Middle East.
In the first hints of a possible retaliatory response, two mortar rounds hit an area near the US embassy in Baghdad on Saturday, security sources told AFP.
Almost concurrently, two rockets struck into the Al-Balad airbase where American troops are deployed, security sources said. The Iraqi military confirmed the missile attacks in Baghdad and on al-Balad and said there were no casualties. The US military also said no coalition troops were hurt.
With Americans wondering fearfully if, how and where Iran will hit back for the assassination, the Department of Homeland Security issued a bulletin that said "at this time there is no specific, credible threat against the homeland."