this is bbc world news. i'm simon pusey. our top stories: president trump defends the killing of iran's top military commander in an airstrike. the us says general qasem soleimani was actively plotting an attack and their decision saved hundreds of american lives. we took action last night to stop a war, we did not take action to start a war. as iran vows revenge, tens of thousands of iranians take to the streets in protest. in other news: safe at last. relief as the australian navy rescues 1,000 people who'd been trapped on the coast by bush fires.
hello. iran has vowed severe revenge against the united states after the killing of iranian military commander qasem soleimani. he was blown up outside baghdad airport in the early hours of friday morning on the orders of president trump. us officials say the general had been plotting to kill americans in the region. iranian leaders have called the killing an act of international terrorism. the pentagon is sending an extra 3,500 troops to the region. here's our middle east editor, jeremy bowen. this was the moment that the us assassinated qasem soleimani and pushed the middle east into a new year and new decade of uncertainty and more danger. the pictures came from a tv station controlled by iran. the attack, from a missile fired from a drone, hit his motorcade as he was being driven out of baghdad airport.
the us and iran were already fighting a war in the shadows. neither side wants uncontrolled escalation, but the chances of miscalculation and a lurch into a bigger war have increased. qasem soleimani was no ordinary foe. for a generation, he was probably america's most capable enemy. his death delivers a blow to the heart of the iranian regime. for many years, soleimani built up iran's power outside its borders and made it, and himself, a major player in iraq, syria and lebanon. he was a talisman for iranian hardliners who have been rocked to their core. they'll want to get even — perhaps more than that. last sunday, american air strikes killed 25 members of kata'ib hezbollah,
an iraqi militia armed and trained by soleimani's quds organisation, after an american contractor was killed in a militia attack. the militiamen, undoubtedly on soleimani's orders, marched on the us embassy in baghdad and attacked its perimeter. the militias he created were a vital part of the fight against thejihadists of islamic state, but they're also one way that iran projects power abroad. the huge american compound is a fortress and it wasn't breached, but the attacks goaded and threatened the trump administration. the americans are rushing in reinforcements to the middle east — 3,750 so far. us civilians told by their government to get out as soon as they can. but trump wanted to press home an american advantage. his reign of terror is over. soleimani has been perpetrating acts of terror to destabilise
the middle east for the last 20 years. what the united states did yesterday should have been done long ago. we took action last night to stop a war. in baghdad, some iraqis celebrated the killing. for weeks, anti—government demonstrators have been demanding an end to iranian influence in iraq. in tehran, ayatollah ali khamenei, iran's supreme leader, visited qasem soleimani's widow. he said severe revenge awaits the criminals. iranian hardliners are devastated. the spokesman for soleimani's republican guard corps was highly emotional in a tv interview. so were regime supporters on the streets. qasem soleimani was their hero at a time when they see themselves surrounded by enemies.
iran was already under severe pressure from us sanctions. president trump might be gambling that he has so weakened iran that it will rage but not hurt the us badly. that assumption could be dangerous and wrong. jeremy bowen, bbc news. iran's foreign minister has condemned the killing of qasem solemaini. speaking to a persian tv channel, mohammad zarif said his country will respond to the attack. translation: iran has the right to retaliate whenever it wants to end whenever it feels it is the right time. we will not be blackmailed by the americans. we will act whenever and however our leadership wants. so iran is vowing to avenge
general soleimani's death, but what kind of retaliation could there be? here's our chief international correspondent, lyse doucet. iran has many ways and many means to strike back and judging by its past military operations, its response will be carefully calibrated. it will want to be seen to reply in equal measure to what it has described as a declaration of war but it wants to avoid a direct military confrontation with the united states, which it knows could push this region into an ever more unpredictable and deadly escalation. so its next move could possibly, through some of its many proxies across this region, possibly in iraq, whether us forces, us targets, where i am now in afghanistan where us forces are also based. but given that iran's vast intelligence network, it could also take place in another part of the world, far from iran's borders, but iran will want
to have an operation which shocks and surprises at a time of its own choosing which stops short of an all—out war. but the repercussions of this major turning point aren't a question of days, weeks or even months — this will play out across this region for many years. north america correspondent david willis told me more about the reaction in washington. president trump makes the point that the american operation that killed qasem soleimani will "save american lives", while his detractors contend the exact opposite. mr trump also making the point today that qasem soleimani was planning a big offensive against military personnel or diplomats in the middle east, therefore making the point that by killing him, the us was taking defensive measures. the united states, though,
has failed to back that claim — the claim that soleimani was plotting a new offensive — with any sort of intelligence information, however, thus far, despite calls from congress for it to do so and some misgivings among certain elements of congress that they were not briefed in advance of this attack on qasem soleimani. yeah, 3,000 further troops being sent by the united states to the area, that's not going to stabilise tensions, is it? i guess they're there to defend us interests and allies, and it's not an offensive move, that? well, exactly, and of course we have a president here who was elected on a promise, let's not forget, to withdraw american troops from the region and end american involvement in wars overseas. well, here we have more troops going in. the pentagon talking now of 3,000—plus as a result of the increased tensions
following this attack. and, of course, there are about 5,000 american troops still in iraq who are perhaps potential targets now should there be any sort of response, any reprisals, from the iranians. so i don't know what's going to happen now as far as that is concerned, but certainly there is a lot of concern on the part of democrats in congress that this could prove to be a reckless move on the part of the trump administration, simon. you mention the democrats there. i guess the reaction to this in america has been somewhat along party lines. has it been that simple? very much so. we have seen democrats condemn this attack as reckless, warning of dire consequences.
the former vice president, joe biden, who was in the rest of his party's presidential nomination said that the action against qasem soleimani has tossed a stick of dynamite into a tinderbox, there has been similar reactions from bernie sanders and eliza bath warren, and calls, of course, for the white house to articulate its overall strategy as far as iran is concerned, where does the white house go from here and what does it do, if indeed, iran does decide to retaliate. dr assal rad is a researcher and expert on us—iran issues. i asked her, given the history of relations between the two countries whether she was surprised by the united states‘ actions. it was shocking, because it was really a turning point in the relationships. there has been enmity between the two sides for the past four years but this kind of direct strike that would target such a high officialfrom iran,
we haven't had that in the last four years, we haven't had anything. so this really sets a different precedent and i think it changes the game of the relationship now. it's especially important when you look at the direction that the relationship was going in four or five years ago with the nuclear agreement, and just how far we have fallen from that moment. donald trump says he doesn't war. it's quite hard to claim, though, that the strike against soleimani was defensive without giving any evidence of an imminent attack, and no evidence has since come out. of course. the state department was present as question by journalists today and they evaded those questions and did not really answer. we don't have anything concrete to say there was an imminent threat, and despite there being an imminent threat, it is a violation of international law. it sets a dangerous precedent if we are committing extrajudicial assassinations in other countries,
other countries‘ officials. president trump's issue with his foreign policy in general, especially his iran policy, is that it has been incoherent from day one. he says he does not want war but his policies let us know about war, which we have now seen. leading into an election year, now we are in an election year, it seems like he is hedging between getting a deal, or getting a war and hoping that both sides of that would help him in the election. iraqi television says there's been another air strike, this time targetting a convoy of vehicles belonging to an iranian—backed militia. it happened on the taji road north of baghdad. a paramilitary group known as iraq's popular mobilisation forces reportedly claimed that an air strike hit a convoy of medics. stay with us on bbc news. still to come: a long and difficult day ahead. the warning as bushfires continue to burn out of control in australia. 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, the latest headlines: president trump defends the killing of iran's top military commander qasem soleimani, insisting that washington is not looking for regime change. iran's supreme leader has vowed "severe revenge" on those responsible for the death of the iranian general. more now on that story. kian sharifi from bbc monitoring joins me on the line now. let's look at the coverage of this in iran. this is obviously the story in tehran at the moment. halliday media outlets covering it? it has been the top story for 2h hours now. it is impossible to browse iran in tv and come across a channel which is not covering the story. channel one has been interviewing top
government figures right now, right now they are interviewing a guard commander. they are talking about what kind of a person soleimani was, trying to paint the kind of picture of what he was in his personal life. inaudible. .my providing reports on international reaction to soleimani's death. the channels all have a black stripe in the top left corner of the screen, which is a sign of mourning, which is a big deal. they only do this for very important figures. the international facing press tv has been interviewing its national political a nalysts interviewing its national political analysts about the repercussions of the us strike which killed soleimani. so this is a big deal. and what is the nature of the coverage been like? — mike has. are they looking back at his life and they looking back at his life and the kind of figured he was, or are
they looking forward and asking for retaliation? and has there been any kind of agreement among the outlets about what to do next? again, it depends on which channel you are looking at. some of the channels yesterday were showing old footage of soleimani, saying he was extremely helpful, he was extremely crucial to defeating isis. they were talking about his exploits during the iran—iraq war in the 1980s. whereas press tv, the international channel, was talking about weather oi’ channel, was talking about weather or not what the us it was a mistake. they all agreed that what the us did was an act of terrorism. they don't talk about what iran should be doing next but what they agree on is that there needs to be a response from iran. and what about the social media reaction, because obviously thatis media reaction, because obviously that is such a big part of everyday
life, when stories like this happen. what have people been saying on social media? social media has been abuzz since this statement by the supreme abuzz since this statement by the supreme leader yesterday morning about "harsh vengeance". that term has become a hashtag on twitter. pro establishment medias have been treating under that hashtag, praising soleimani and calling for retaliation, basically taunting trump. and they just retaliation, basically taunting trump. and theyjust want cloud now. the antiestablishment users are also using that hashtag to praise president trump, because they are happy with the death of general soleimani. thank you very much indeed for bringing us the latest from the coverage of the story in iran.
the un secretary—general antonio guterres has called for world leaders to exercise maximum restraint after general solemaini's death. he says the world can't afford another war in the region. his warning comes amid fears the latest government offensive in the syrian province idlib could lead to another humanitarian catastrophe. more than 235,000 people have been displaced in the past three weeks. the syrian regime has been advancing into the province in stages, pushing up from the south in what appears to be an effort to capture strategic motorways. residents are fleeing north, to the border with turkey and other parts of northern syria. barbara plett usher reports. the bombs have been falling relentlessly. this is a particularly brutal offensive in syria's long war. regime forces backed by russia are pounding the last stronghold of the armed opposition. they insist they are targeting
islamist extremists who lead the rebels, but are making no effort to spare civilians, striking homes, hospitals, markets, women, children. nine—year—old fatimah survived the bombing of her home. so did her 11—year—old sister, islan, who was also trapped in the rubble. rescue workers tried to free her legs, but a secondary explosion sent them ducking for cover. eventually they pulled her to safety. the girls‘ mother died in the attack. a new tide of people have led the advance of the government, emptying towns and villages in southern idlib. many had already been uprooted by fighting in other parts of syria. for some, this is the fifth, even tenth time on the road. and it‘s the worst time of year, especially for those who have not found refuge with relatives.
camps near syria‘s border with turkey are overcrowded, already filled by those displaced from previous regime attacks in italy. conditions were bad and will probably get worse. translation: we became homeless. we left with the clothes on our back. we can‘t do anything. we have no money, no heating. we have nothing. across the border, turkey used to be a refuge for syria‘s homeless, but it says it can‘t afford to take any more. abdul arrived in istanbul more than three years ago. he works for an opposition radio station broadcasting into rebel—held areas. his family was among those who fled to the intensive bombing. they found a safe place for now, in northern syria. when do you think you are going to see your family
ain? you are going to see your family again? never? "not forat least you are going to see your family again? never? "not for at least ten years", he says. there certainly will not be a quick end to the misery, because the syrian regime has vowed not to stop until the tree ta kes has vowed not to stop until the tree takes the entire rebel province. —— until it reta kes. other news now, the australian prime minister scott morrison has confirmed that 23 people have died in the bushfire crisis since september. among the latest victims are two people who were killed on kangaroo island off the coast of south australia, where an emergency warning has been issued. this "fire tornado" was filmed on the island and is feared that bushfires could consume the entire national park. meanwhile, more than 1,000 people have been safely evacuated by navy ships from the town of mallacoota. mr morrison says the country is entering a critical few days and has announced greater military support will be provided to help firefighters across the country. there are now scores of fires burning across new south wales and victoria. 0ur correspondent shaimaa khalil reports now from the coastal town
of ulladulah, which is around 140 miles south of sydney. there is a real sense of airiness here in ulladulla. this is one of the coastal towns in southern new south wales and it is part of the leave zone, where authorities have urged people to evacuate. normally at this time of year it would be very popular with holidaymakers, but has thousands of tourists and residents have heeded those calls to leave, it is very quiet. power has been cut off, and all the cafe is in response some shops have been closed. many are now gathering outside the evacuation centre here because it is too hot to be inside without power. now, despite these warnings, people have decided to stay and defend their homes. we‘ve been driving around and the main highway through this town has been
cut off in both directions because there are fires burning north and south of here. the heat is getting up, the temperatures are picking up, iam up, the temperatures are picking up, i am already getting a bit of smoke as well. this is going to intensify, this extreme fire condition. everybody here is watching and nervously waiting to see what these places are going to do, how hard they are going to hit, and tried to be as ready as they can for a dangerous day ahead. indonesian authorities are turning to the technique of cloud seeding to try to stop more rain falling in the flood—hit capitaljakarta. planes have been sent to inject chemicals into clouds in an effort to alter the storms that have left large areas underwater. at least 43 people are known to have died, with some 192,000 evacuated from their homes. french police have shot dead a knifeman who killed one person and injured at least two others in a surburb south of paris. police said the man attacked several people in a park in the town of villejuif, which is five miles from central paris. he then fled the scene which was near a supermarket before police said the knifeman
was "neutralised." a former mexican security minister, genaro garcia luna, has pleaded not guilty in a new york court to accusations of taking bribes to allow the sinaloa cartel to ship drugs into the united states. he was arrested in texas in december after a former cartel member testified that he had twice met him to hand over suitcases holding at least $6 million. several people have been injured after a bull ran wild at a new year‘s festival in peru. it happened in the city of wancalveca. bullfighting and running with bulls are popular in the country, but animal rights groups say they are cruel and inhumane. the bbc‘s tim allman has more. even by the standards of this festival, this scene is pretty chaotic.
screaming the bull is let loose in an open field and is allowed to pretty much run wild. screaming this, the almost inevitable result — people thrown around like rag dolls. screaming others are gored, lucky that only their clothes had been torn. it is all part of a four—day religious festival held to celebrate new year. locals call it a much—loved tradition. critics insist it is cruel and the animals are clearly distressed. 0ften following an event like this, the bulls are taken away to face a matador, and almost certainly an untimely demise. this, a controversial and, some say, upsetting end. a raging bull that rages no more. tim allman, bbc news. you can reach me on twitter. i‘m @sipusey.
you can also get more news on our website. hello there. despite some early morning rain on friday in the south—east and gale—force gusts of winds in the northern isles, for many, it was a better day. more sunshine around than we‘ve seen so far this year. and we can see this from the weather watch picture sent in from cambridgeshire. a beautiful afternoon with not a cloud in the sky. so let‘s take a look at friday‘s weather in a little more detailfirst. there was the early morning cloud that eased away. clear skies behind and just some shower clouds from those strengthening winds into the far north. but with those clear skies continuing overnight, it means a chilly start to our saturday morning — low single figures in the south—east, a touch of light frost in sheltered rural parts as well. but saturday is shaping up to be a reasonable day. as high pressure builds from the south, across the top
of the high, we have those weak weather fronts and always a bit more of a breeze with the isobars squeezing together here. but generally speaking, it is not looking like a bad weekend at all. so, sheltered eastern areas perhaps seeing the best of the brightness. some sunshine across eastern scotland and england. the cloud thick enough out to the west for a spot or two of drizzle. and into the far north—west with that weather front never too far away, maybe some more persistent showery rain and strengthening winds here. temperatures at around 8—10 degrees — that is down from what we‘ve seen of late but still not too bad, really, for this time of year. as we move out of saturday into sunday, the high—pressure starting to drift off into the near continent. again, these weather fronts creeping in across the top of the high and again, those isobars still a feature. so the winds will strengthen and start to swing around to more of a south—westerly direction on sunday. so again, always the risk of more cloud along west—facing coasts, thick enough for some drizzle, more persistent rain in the far north—west but again, sheltered south and eastern areas seeing some sunshine
and temperatures at around 9—12 degrees as a high. but as we move out of sunday into the start of the new working week, we have to look high up into the atmosphere — yes, the jet stream. looks as though it‘s going to turn into quite a powerfuljet, and that is going to be responsible for driving areas of low pressure across the uk. so it does look as though we are set for an unsettled spell of weather at the start of our new working week. not one weather front to sweep through, only to be replaced by another. and it does look as though it‘s going to be wet and increasingly windy with plenty of isobars on the chart. so potentially on tuesday, quite a stormy spell with gales likely, and some of that rain quite heavy. enjoy the weekend if you can.
president trump says the us killed iran‘s top military commander, qassem soleimani, to stop a war, not to start one. in a televised address, mr trump said the us had killed the number one terrorist in the world. he said soleimani had been plotting imminent attacks. the iranian government said it would retaliate against what it called an act of international terrorism by the united states at a time and place of its choosing. many world leaders have said the killing of general soleimani could lead to serious consequences for regional and global security. the new south wales fire commissioner has warned saturday will be a long and difficult day for everybody, as bushfires continue to burn out of control. there‘s been a similar warning from the fire chief in victoria, as australia faces possibly its worst day yet in a summer of wildfires. three energy companies have agreed to pay more than £10 million