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Criminal Aggression: US asks citizens to leave Iraq immediately

Criminal Aggression: US asks citizens to leave Iraq immediatelyThis photo released by the Iraqi Prime Minister Press Office shows a burning vehicle of Gen Qassem Soleiman at the Baghdad International Airport following an airstrike in Baghdad on Friday
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Iran has vowed a 'crushing revenge' and 'jihad' on the United States after an American airstrike on Friday morning killed Tehran's top general Qassem...

Tehran/Washington: Iran has vowed a 'crushing revenge' and 'jihad' on the United States after an American airstrike on Friday morning killed Tehran's top general Qassem Soleimani, head of the elite Quds Force, at Baghdad International Airport.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei proclaimed his country would avenge the bitter loss of his highest ranking general, while Lebanon's Tehran-backed Hezbollah said it would ramp up its terror 'with the blessing of his pure blood.'

Soon after news of the strike spread, Trump, who is currently at Mar-a-Lago, tweeted an image of an American flag, offering no further remarks or explanation.

The US embassy told all Americans to 'leave Iraq immediately' where possible by airline and 'failing that, to other countries via land.'

It comes as the Iraqi prime minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi warned the rocket strike would 'spark a devastating war in Iraq,' adding that the assault by the US was 'a brazen violation of Iraq's sovereignty and blatant attack on the nation's dignity.'

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Tehran to protest against the US 'crimes' chanting 'Death to America', torching the Stars and Stripes and holding up posters of the slain commander.

Khamenei proclaimed: 'All friends - & enemies - know that Jihad of Resistance will continue with more motivation & definite victory awaits the fighters on this blessed path. The loss of our dear General is bitter.

The continuing fight & ultimate victory will be more bitter for the murderers & criminals.'

The leader of Lebanon's Tehran-backed Hezbollah group Hassan Nasrallah announced: 'We will carry a flag on all battlefields and all fronts and we will step up the victories of the axis of resistance with the blessing of his pure blood.'

Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami also paid tribute to Soleimani, vowing: 'A crushing revenge will be taken for Soleimani's unjust assassination.'

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Trump for the strike, saying: 'Qassem Soleimani is responsible for the death of American citizens and many other innocent people. He was planning more such attacks.'

China, Russia and Syria condemned the US strike. Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said at a briefing on Friday that Beijing has "consistently opposed the use of military force in international relations".

Russia has called the missile strike by the US as an "irresponsible step that will lead to increased tensions throughout the Middle East region".

Moscow also offered condolences to the Iranian people over the death of Soleimani. "We consider the killing of Soleimani as a result of US missile strike in the outskirts of Baghdad as an adventurous step that will lead to increased tensions throughout the region.

Soleimani devotedly served the cause of protecting Iran's national interests," a Foreign Ministry official told Sputnik.

Syria also condemned the "U.S. criminal aggression" which led to the killed of Soleimani.

It also slammed Washington for the killing of the Deputy Chairman of Iraqi Popular Mobilization Commission Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and a number of the Mobilization's cadres.

The UK government has "urged all parties to de-escalate" after the killing of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in a US air strike in Iraq.

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