this is bbc news. welcome if you're watching here in the uk, on pbs in america or around the globe. i'm simon pusey. our top stories: the united states kills the commander of iran's special operations quds force with an airstrike. the pentagon says general soleimani was developing plans to attack american diplomats in iraq and throughout the region. general soleimani was iran's main strategist on iraq and masterminded all iranian military interventions in the region.
we start with breaking news from iraq. general qasem soleimani, the head of the iranian revolutionary guards‘ elite quds force, has been killed in an airstrike in baghdad. his death has been confirmed by the revolutionary guards, and reported on iranian state television. the pentagon said president trump ordered the killing of general soleimani. david willis joins us from los angeles. what are your sources saying about this? a short while ago, the pentagon issued a statement confirming that the united states was behind an attack which killed qasem soleimani. the statement said he was developing plans to attack us personnel, including diplomats. it blamed general soleimani for orchestrating attacks on coalition
basesin orchestrating attacks on coalition bases in iraq, including the protest earlier this week at the us embassy in baghdad. now, president trump had said that iran would pay a big price, as he put it, for that unrest, the unrest at the us embassy in baghdad. and a short while ago he tweeted a picture of an american flag. no comment was attached to it. but a senior us government official is stressing that this attack which killed general soleimani was undertaken in response to what it called an active threat against us interests in the region. i guess the big question now is, will it prompt retaliation on the part of iran? that concern was raised in a tweet from democrat senator chris murphy, who wrote tonight "did america just assassinate without any congressional authorisation the
second most powerful person in iran, knowingly setting off a potential massive regional war?" but from the democratic senator chris murphy. lots of reaction obviously coming on and often polarising, as is often the case with jump in the and often polarising, as is often the case withjump in the us, in terms of the fact that many people called this man a terrorism say it is great he was taken out, but others talking about the potential for war. others talking about the potential forwar. —— trump others talking about the potential for war. —— trump in the us. is it for war. —— trump in the us. is it for you typical of trump's foreign policy at the moment, or did this really co m e policy at the moment, or did this really come out of the blue? it caps off months of escalating tension between the us and iran, that was that a rocket attack which killed an american contractor. that led to those airstrikes by the united states, which killed 25 members of an iranian backed militia, and then we had those protests we were just referring to at the us embassy in
baghdad. president trump had said he a lwa ys baghdad. president trump had said he always wanted to see retaliation, but he did not want to see a war with iran. his defence secretary, mark esper, had warned there could unilateral action against iran after that protest outside the us embassy. and now we have seen it. the question is really, as i say, what is next? what retaliatory action, if any, will iran take, and what does this mean for the thousands of us troops who are in that region of the world ? as troops who are in that region of the world? as you said, donald trump did promise retaliation, though when he was asked by a reporter during the attacks on the embassy whether he wa nted attacks on the embassy whether he wanted war with iran, he said absolutely not. obviously people are worrying that could now happen. do you think part of this is foreign policy for donald trump ahead of the —— ahead of an election year? he wa nts to —— ahead of an election year? he wants to look strong and powerful and geta wants to look strong and powerful and get a big foreign policy win for america, making the us look strong?
undoubtedly. he is looking to be robust, with an election just around the corner, just months away. but there is concern, of course. it will be polarising, destruction. we are seeing this already from what has come up seeing this already from what has come up on seeing this already from what has come up on twitter. there will be those in his party who are applauding him, patting him on the back, effectively. those among the democrat ranks, we heard from one of them just now, basically saying this isa them just now, basically saying this is a potentially very dangerous military enterprise which could lead to escalating tension in the region. how the chips fall, if you like, could be crucial to donald trump's real election campaign. some reports as well, obviously those two main figures have been killed, but some reports that others have been captured. do you know anything more about that? we were told that initial reports suggested that there was an iraqi, a member ofan iraqi
militia, also involved in this attack. the report suggested eight people in total had been killed. in this perhaps rocket or drone attacks, launched by the us outside baghdad international airport. interesting to pick out these sorts of targets when they are outside the country. —— easy to pick out. that is the case for qasem soleimani, who is the case for qasem soleimani, who is normally based in iran. david willis, interesting to speak to you. thank you. let's speak now to our chief international correspondent, lyse doucet. thank you forjoining us. obviously big making news, there is. how significant is the story, do you think, for us — iran relations and the region at large? it is impossible to exaggerate the significance of the killing of qasem soleimani, the head of iran's elite quds force. there is already a major and growing crisis between iran and
the us, which is playing out in an ever more volatile region. the killing of their top commander for iran would have been a red line. in iran would have been a red line. in iran he is regarded as the most significant personality beneath iran's all—powerful supreme leader, ayatolla h iran's all—powerful supreme leader, ayatollah muhammad ali. there are so many ways in which qasem soleimani has been described in the middle east, and certainly by cia officials, as the most powerful operative in the region. he was seen as the mastermind between iran's vast regional ambitions, one of the principal architects of the war in syria, one of the ongoing conflicts in iraq, and iran's ambitions right across the region. he will have a huge impact —— it will have a huge impact on iran's regional strategy, but also within iran this has massive political significance. i think certainly escalation will be expected, as well as retaliation.
you talk about retaliation. about a day ago, donald trump was asked by a reporter, did he foresee or want to war with reporter, did he foresee or want to warwith iran? he reporter, did he foresee or want to war with iran? he said reporter, did he foresee or want to warwith iran? he said no. but lots of people will be saying that looks like it could be what will happen. do you think that is on the cards? ordo you do you think that is on the cards? or do you think the iranians will ta ke or do you think the iranians will take a step back and take their time with a response? ever since the united states, under president trump, pulled out of the iran nuclear deal in 2018, the region has been on an art of escalating tension. all of last year, month after month, many have been asking whether there would be a war in the persian gulf, whether there would be a proxy conflict between iran and the us in one of the regional powers. but there was a sense in which nobody wanted a war. every leader in the region, president trump himself, said "we don't want a
wa r" trump himself, said "we don't want a war". and they were a number of times when people pulled back from the brink, but the killing of qasem soleimani marks a major turning point. i think it is too soon to say just what the iranians will do. but it is certain they will have to do something. it will be a matter of honour. there will be huge fury within iran that the us has now taken responsibility for killing qasem soleimani. of course, for the us it isa qasem soleimani. of course, for the us it is a totally different situation. the statement from the pentagon, as we have been reporting, say that they hold him responsible for attacks on american soldiers. they hold him responsible for the death of hundreds of american soldiers, in all of the year since 2003, the us-led soldiers, in all of the year since 2003, the us—led invasion of iraq. one does not want to be in a position of saying that there will bea war, position of saying that there will be a war, but we can say with certainty that this is a defining moment in an already volatile region, a region already on the edge in countries like iraq. and just
quickly, to talk about the american angle, do you think it is too simple to make the embassy attack we have seen over the last few days and the threats that have come out from donald trump after that, to the killing of qasem soleimani and the others that were killed in these attacks? lots of this would be linked. it was always seen, at a moments when the united states and iran were very anxious to avoid direct confrontation, it was seen that the tensions of the confrontation was more likely to ta ke confrontation was more likely to take base in countries like iraq, where there was a presence of american forces and targets, the us embassy, and of course the iranians back to militias and iranian forces inside iraq, and that is indeed what we have seen happening in recent weeks and certainly in recent days, with the unprecedented attacks on the us embassy, notjust by the protesters who had been taking to the for months, but by members of
iranians linked militias who were angry at american strikes which had killed members of their militia. it has escalated in this way, i don't think anybody would have expected that this would have ended with the murder of qasem soleimani, a prominent head of an iraqi militia at baghdad airport. a story of so many moving parts, and obviously so many moving parts, and obviously so many more reactions to come out of it, and obviously let's wait and see what the reaction is, least to set, oui’ what the reaction is, least to set, our chief international correspondent. thank you. if you're joining us a reminder of our breaking news this hour: general qasem soleimani, the head of the iranian revolutionary guards‘ elite quds force, has been killed in a us airstrike in baghdad. his death has been confirmed by the revolutionary guards, and reported on iranian state television. the pentagon has released more details about the strike, saying general soleimani was killed "at the direction of the president" and that he had been actively developing plans to attack americans in iraq and throughout the region.
it said the strike was aimed at deterring future iranian attacks. as head of the quds force, general soleimani was responsible for covert operations abroad. retired ambassador robert ford worked in the baghdad us embassy for four years at the height of the iraq war and then served as us ambassador to syria. a short while ago he gave me more on the us reaction to the killing of general soleimani. president trump will have huge political support for this year in the united states. i don't think anyone will come out strongly against him. and we will have to wait and see for the reaction in iraq. what does this mean for what was already a fragile relationship between
iran and the us? well, obviously it's an american escalation. reading the commentary on twitter and facebook tonight, people are worried that war is going to break out immediately between iran and the united states, i am sceptical expects to call. the iranians know that the americans have preponderance militarily, and the iranians are careful, they think things through. they're patient, much more patient than americans. they move deliberately. i wouldn't expect the iranians to necessarily strongly react in the next few days. my guess is they are going to weigh their options and think a little bit before the next move. in your analysis, would you see a direct link? it is obviously very early to speculate. but a direct link between those attacks on the us embassy a few days ago and what we've seen in the last few hours? i think there is just
a steady escalation. the attack on the american embassy and the iranian attack on the american position up near kirkuk on december 27, this is all part of an ongoing tit—for—tat. there has been bombing of iranian—backed militias in syria for months now. the iranians hit an oil facility in saudi arabia, they've harassed shipping in the persian gulf. this has been going on for a long time and this is one more step in the back—and—forth confrontation but no—one should have any question, this is a big step, to kill soleimani, one the most influential people in the middle east, that is no small thing. and the iraqi who died with him was also an important figure in iraqi politics. if soleimani has been killed, what does that mean for the irgc
quds force and iranian militias — will they respond? they will certainly start thinking about it. iam not i am not sure they had contingency plans. iam not i am not sure they had contingency plans. i am not sure they are the sophisticated, they might be, they might not be. but there will be other commanders, that like is the thing about a state—sponsored terrorist organisation like the iranian revolutionary guards and the quds force. the iranians state will continue to back it and there will be a new leader but soleimani had had the job for decades and had built up a network of people, people who liked to work with him and he worked with, who knew him, he was hugely respected among the iraqi, lebanese and syrian militias with whom he worked. you would see selfies of him out on the front lines against isis. this was a guy who had
lots of blood on his hands but i will give him credit for being courageous. and so replacing somebody like him will not be easy. stay with us on bbc news. more on our breaking news that the leader of iran's quds force is killed in baghdad after us airstrikes in the area. the japanese people are in mourning following the death of emperor hirohito. thousands converged on the imperial palace to pay their respects when it was announced he was dead. good grief! after half a century of delighting fans around the world, charlie brown and the rest of the gang are calling it quits. the singer paul simon starts his tour of south africa tomorrow in spite of protests and violence from some black activist groups. they say international artists should continue to boycott south africa until majority rule is established. teams were trying to scoop up lumps
of oil, as france recognises it faces an ecological crisis. three weeks ago, the authorities confidently assured these areas that oil from the broken tanker erika would head out to sea. it didn't. the world's tallest skyscraper opens later today. the burj dubai has easily overtaken its nearest rivals. this is bbc world news. our breaking news this hour: the united states says its forces have killed qasem soleimani, the commander of the elite quds force of the iranian revolutionary guard, in an airstrike on baghdad airport. mike pregent is a senior fellow with the hudson institute. he was an advisor to general david petraeus. i asked him for his reaction.
if you're going to hit iran and iraq, this is what the iraqis have been asking us to do. you hit him, and quds force means jerusalem, and then his deputy, has strongman and iraq, a man who has killed iraqi protesters, american soldiers, kuwaitis, lebanese, shia, syria, he has been all over the region killing people and he recently had his militia kill an american at the k—1 base. that's the reason for all of these protests outside of the iraqi embassy. that with his militia that was protesting outside. so if you wanted to give baghdad a chance, you had to take these two individuals out, and it looks like that's what happened tonight.
both him and his go—to guy, a designated terrorist, appeared to have been killed in a drone strike in baghdad, and for iraqis, if you watch the videos of protesters in tahrir square, they are celebrating this. this actually gives iraqi a chance to push back against iran, because the two people they feared most were qassim soleimani and others. they are gone now. a few days ago president donald trump was asked about the potential of war with iran and he said that wasn't what the us was looking for obviously. isn't that what he is risking though by this strike? i would argue that this is what war with iran looks like. we've seen an escalation by iran in the strait of hormuz,
in yemen, in syria, with numerous rocket attacks against our embassy compound, our consulate in basra, our bases and iraq, and we haven't done anything. we have given them a red line, if you kill an american we're going to respond. there were three target packages that were represented to the president to action the night we attacked along the iraqi—syria border, one of those other packages was to take out qassim soleimani and abu mahdi al—muhandis. they had another attack after storming, this was communicated to tehran — stop. they didn't and this is something that the iranians understand. in the a0 years that this regime has been in power, they only understand force.
ronald reagan destroyed much of the quds force navy when he was president. the israelis have done this time and time again in lebanon and syria and this is the first time the united states has targeted an iranian terrorist general, and his name is qassim soleimani. he is no different from a bagdhadi when it comes to what he has done in iraq with syria. he isa he is a damp designated terrorist. we have no problem targeting isis, we should have no problem targeting a designated terrorist that has killed americans. it has been a few hours since this news came out, what has the reaction been in the us from what you have seen? in the us everyone is cautious, trump is starting a war, this is going to lead to violence, we have already seen violence. we have already seen americans die, we have already seen around's activities. this is what iran looks like.
it has a rocket and missile arsenal it can use, that's what it does and it conducts assassination campaign, conducts terrorist activity. it has been doing that for a0 years. the president, i believe, did the right thing. to be honest with you, i have been recommending this for the last four years as a former intelligence officer. the most important voices coming out of this are the iraqi voices. the iraqis communicated something to us the other day. a lot of young, poor men join these organisations because they are forced to do it by qassim soleimani and abu mahdi al—muhandis. if you want to hurt iran, kill them instead, and that is what happened. the protesters in tahrir square are cheering because it was also qassim soleimani who directed his militias,
when he pushed aside the prime minister at a national security council meeting and said it is ok for you to kill the protesters as long as you refer to them as the corrupt, the spoilers, it is an islamic term used to allow militiamen to kill an unarmed civilian because qassim soleimani has told them he's a spoiler, he's a corrupter. so, listen to the iraqis. they are going to be pretty happy about this. the country's foreign minister said the killing of the quds force chief, qassem soleimani, was: negar mortazavi is an iranian—american journalist and commentator on iranian affairs. she will give us a slightly different analysis to what we heard from mike. negar, thanks forjoining us. what do you think the reaction
will be from iran? we have to wait and see. as you say, the foreign minister responded and state television had an announcement of what they called the martyrdom of the so—called soldier of islam, soldier of the revolution, soldier of iran, commander soleimani, and today, it is early in the morning in tehran, so it is friday and we are going to hear massive reaction in the friday prayers and possibly even from the supreme leader himself, the iranian president, and that will give us more of an idea of how iran is going to react. they are most likely going to react and retaliate but how soon and in what way, we will have to wait and see. it will probably be more measured and within the timeframe. as a piece of foreign policy by the us, how do you judge this move? about a day ago president trump was asked, "do you want war
with iran?", he said, "no, absolutely not". this is surely only escalating tensions between the countries? definitely, this is not something you do if you don't want military conflict with iran and this didn't start today or weeks ago, this started when president trump pulled out of the nuclear agreement with iran when iran was abiding by it and his top advisers and closest allies are basically advised him against going out of the nuclear deal. he said it was a bad deal and he would cut a better one with iran and now we are a year and a half, almost two years from exiting the deal, there's no better deal inside and there's no path to diplomacy with iran and now we are ever closer if not a step away from potential conflict and war in the middle east. negar mortazavi, we would love to have more time with you. such a big story and so much analysis and reaction to come but thank you for joining us. that is all we have time for now. qassem
soleimani, the commander of the elites quds force, has been killed by us forces. thanks for watching. stay tuned. hello there. for many we started the year on a cloudy but quiet note, didn't we? but it was all change by day two with rain, some of it heavy across scotland. not one weather front but two. it must be january — it's buy one get one free and it brought some heavy rain as it drifted its way steadily south and east. so much so that we had 40mm by 8pm at the end of the day on thursday in the highlands of scotland. all change as we move into friday's weather because it looks likely that today will be colder and there will be a little more in the way of sunshine around, and that is because those two weather fronts continue to drift their way south and east, and then they allow the door to open to the colder arctic air.
the isobars always squeezing together and they always stay pretty windy in the northern isles, with galeforce gusts of winds here, but it's going to be a chilly old start in scotland first thing this morning, compare that to double—digits down into the south—east corner. unfortunately, that means that we keep cloud and outbreaks of rain here. hopefully by coffee time, certainly by lunchtime, that should have eased away. we will have more sunshine coming through for friday, but it stays windy into the far north and that's going to drive in some showers on exposed north—west coast and those temperatures struggling a little. so despite the sunshine, highest values ofjust 6—9 degrees. moving out of friday into the start of the weekend and it looks likely that high pressure will build from the south and stay with us for saturday and sunday. at the same time, frontal systems drift across the high and that means more cloud here and more of a breeze, so sheltered eastern areas seeing the best of any brightness perhaps on saturday. more cloud further west and just a little bit of light, showery rain into the far north—west, with highest values on saturday of 7—10 degrees. it's almost a case of spot the difference as we move into sunday — still under the influence of high—pressure
for most, still those weather fronts toppling across that high, introducing more cloud and rain, with more of a south—westerly feed, slightly less colder air across the country, and temperatures widely back into double figures — 9—11 degrees for many. but that means that the high pressure is likely to drift its way off into the near continent, so for the start of the new working week, as everybody‘s starting to get back into a routine after christmas and new year period, there is some more rain to come in the forecast — wet and windy weather will arrive for monday into tuesday, so this is how it is looking — pretty unsettled. umbrellas close at hand, i'm afraid. take care.
this is bbc news, the headlines: the united states says its forces have killed qasem soleimani, the commander of the elite quds force of the iranian revolutionary guard, in an airstrike on baghdad airport. the pentagon said general soleimani was actively developing plans to attack americans throughout the region. iran has confirmed the general‘s death. the australian navy is evacuating over 800 people from mallacoota in victoria, a town almost encircled by wildfires. it‘s part of the authorities‘ attempts to get as many people as possible to safety before a forecast rise in temperatures. the operation is being described as the country‘s largest—ever mass evacuation. the trump administration has announced a ban on some flavours of e—cigarette to curb rising teenage use of vaping products. however, menthol and tobacco flavours, and large, refillable vaping devices will be completely exempt. critics say the measures fall short of plans previously outlined by president trump earlier.