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UK, with troops in Iraq, won’t lament Soleimani’s death, but PM urges restraint

Boris Johnson weighs in after two days’ silence; Iran earlier says will no longer abide by nuclear deal limits; ex-head of Revolutionary Guards says Haifa, Tel Aviv are now targets

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks outside 10 Downing Street in London on December 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks outside 10 Downing Street in London on December 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Sunday’s events as they happened.

Iran threatens big step away from nuclear deal after Soleimani killing

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman says that officials in the Islamic Republic plan to meet Sunday night to discuss their next step out of the nuclear deal and that it will be even bigger than initially planned.

Abbas Mousavi makes the comment Sunday during a briefing with journalists after a US airstrike killed Iranian Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

Mousavi says the step would be greater than planned as “in the world of politics, all developments are interconnected.”

If taken, it would be the fifth step to break terms of Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, which saw Iran limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.

Mousavi does not elaborate on what that step could be. Iran previously has broken limits of its enrichment, its stockpiles and its centrifuges, as well as restarted enrichment at an underground facility.

— AP

UK says trying to ‘deescalate’ volatile US-Iran standoff

Britain’s foreign minister says it is trying to “deescalate” a volatile situation after a US drone strike killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab says in an interview with broadcaster Sky News that Soleimani “was a regional menace.”

Raab adds that the UK understood the US’s “position” and “right to exercise self-defense.”

But Raab says the UK was discussing with top officials in the US and Europe, as well as Iran and Iraq, about how to avoid a war, which he says wouldn’t be in anyone’s interests.

Britain’s Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said late Saturday that he had ordered two British Navy warships, the HMS Montrose frigate and the HMS Defender destroyer, to return to the Strait of Hormuz amid the soaring regional tensions.

— AP

Hamas chief phones Iran FM to express condolences for Soleimani

Hamas’s top political leader, Ismail Haniyeh, calls Iran’s foreign minister to express the group’s condolences after the US killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.

In the call to Mohammad Javad Zarif, Haniyeh “praised the leading martyr’s role in supporting the resistance, and standing by the rights of the Palestinian people at various times,” a statement by the Gaza-based terror group says.

Zarif thanks Haniyeh, “affirming the continued support of the Iranian Republic for the rights of the Palestinian people and their resistance in defending their lands and holy places,” the statement says.

Middle East stock markets trade down amid conflict fears

Major stock markets in the Middle East are trading down on fears of a conflict between Iran and the US after an American drone strike killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

The Boursa Kuwait closed down 4%. The Dubai Financial Market closed down just over 3%. Riyadh’s Tadawul was down over 2% as trading continued. The Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange fell 1.42%.

Egypt’s stock exchange also fell 4%.

Meanwhile, oil prices continued to rise. Brent crude traded up 3.5% to $68.60 a barrel.

The US killed Soleimani on Friday. Early Sunday, as Iran threatened “harsh retaliation,” US President Donald Trump tweeted the US was prepared to strike 52 sites in the Islamic Republic if any Americans are harmed.

— AP

Soleimani’s daughter vows revenge, says Trump should have faced her father

The daughter of Iran’s Gen. Qassem Soleimani says the death of her father will “not break us” and the United States should know that his blood will not go for free.

Zeinab Soleimani told Lebanon’s Al-Manar TV — which is linked with the Iran-backed Hezbollah — that the “filthy” President Donald Trump will not be able to wipe out the achievements of the slain Iranian leader.

In the short interview aired today, Zeinab Soleimani says Trump is not courageous because her father was targeted by missiles from afar and the US president should have “stood face to face in front of him.”

The young woman, who speaks in Farsi with Arabic voice over, says she knows that Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah will avenge the death of her father.

— AP

Blue and White to Edelstein: ‘You’re not Netanyahu’s agent’

Blue and White urges the speaker of Israel’s parliament to allow the Knesset to consider and vote on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s immunity soon.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, of Netanyahu’s Likud party, has dragged his feet on allowing the convening of the Knesset House Committee to consider Netanyahu’s immunity request in three corruption cases.

Edelstein today asked Knesset Legal Adviser Eyal Yinon for a legal opinion outlining his powers on the convening of the Knesset Arrangements Committee – a body that would in turn convene the Knesset House Committee.

In response, Blue and White says Edelstein “must not disrespect the Holy of Holies of Israeli democracy. We urge him to allow the establishment of the House Committee to discuss the immunity requested by Netanyahu. The Knesset should not be allowed to become a haven for a defendant charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust.”

Edelstein was “elected speaker of the Knesset, not Netanyahu’s agent in the Knesset. You must act accordingly,” the party says.

The upshot of the procedural wrangling: Blue and White believes it has a majority of the parliament’s 120 members for a vote against granting Netanyahu immunity – and so wants to force such a vote. That would mean Netanyahu may go to elections on March 2 under indictment.

— Raoul Wootliff

Iraqi MPs to meet on US troop ouster after Soleimani killing

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Iraq’s parliament is expected to vote today on ousting thousands of US troops from military bases, which are threatened by pro-Tehran factions after an American strike killed top Iranian and Iraqi commanders.

Late Saturday, missiles slammed into the Baghdad enclave where the US embassy is located and an airbase north of the capital housing American troops, prompting US President Donald Trump to threaten strikes on 52 sites in Iran.

The near-simultaneous attacks seemed to be the first phase of promised retaliation for the US precision drone strike that killed Iran’s Major General Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy head of Iraq’s Hashed al-Shaabi.

While no one claimed Saturday’s attacks, a hardline pro-Iran faction in the Hashed, a network of Shiite-majority armed groups incorporated into the state, urged Iraqis to move away from US forces.

“We ask security forces in the country to get at least 1,000 meters away from US bases starting on Sunday at 5:00 p.m. (1400 GMT),” said the Kataeb Hezbollah faction.

The deadline coincides with the planned conclusion of Sunday’s parliamentary session, which the Hashed has insisted should see a vote on the ouster of US troops.

Some 5,200 US soldiers are stationed across Iraqi bases to support local troops preventing a resurgence of the Islamic State jihadist group. They are deployed as part of the broader international coalition, invited by the Iraqi government in 2014 to help fight IS.

— AFP

Regime airstrikes said to kill 5 in northwest Syria

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Regime airstrikes kill five civilians in the embattled opposition stronghold of Idlib in northwest Syria, a Britain-based war monitor says.

Jihadist-run Idlib has come under mounting bombardment in recent weeks, forcing tens of thousands to flee their homes in the region of some three million people.

“Regime air raids killed five civilians in the town of Ariha,” says the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on sources inside the war-torn country.

The Damascus government has repeatedly vowed to take back control of Idlib, which is run by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a group dominated by Syria’s former al-Qaeda affiliate.

A ceasefire announced in late August was supposed to stem Russia-backed regime bombardment of the region after it killed around 1,000 civilians in four months.

— AFP

Nasrallah: Trump killed Soleimani because US election coming up

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah says Donald Trump’s killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani is an electoral stunt.

Speaking live from Beirut, he calls the assassination by the US forces early Friday a “crime,” and says Soleimani died as he wished, as a martyr.

“Trump wants to dominate Iran,” he claims.

Nasrallah: Soleimani killing launches ‘new era in the region’

Hezbollah head Hassan Nasrallah says Qassem Soleimani’s killing begins “a new phase” in the region.

Friday marks a “date separating two phases in the region … it is the start of a new phase and a new history not just for Iran or Iraq but the whole region,” he says in a speech broadcast from Beirut.

He insists his side can’t lose, because it sees death as another kind of victory.

“We do not get defeated… Even when we get martyred we triumph.”

Trump also “doesn’t respect international law,” Nasrallah avers.

US-led coalition says it’s ‘paused’ IS fight in Iraq after rockets

BAGHDAD, Iraq — The US-led coalition announces it is “pausing” its fight against the Islamic State group in Iraq, where US troops training local forces have faced a spate of rocket attacks.

“This has limited our capacity to conduct training with partners and to support their operations against Daesh (IS) and we have therefore paused these activities, subject to continuous review,” the coalition says in a statement.

On Saturday, the coalition said its forces in Baghdad and in an airfield north of the capital had faced new attacks, bringing the total rocket strikes in the last two months to 13.

— AFP

Nasrallah calls on Shiite militias to attack US military

Nasrallah, in a seemingly endless speech, is finally getting to the point, and the point is dramatic: He calls for Shiite forces allied to Iran to attack US military assets.

Iran “won’t ask you to do anything – to act or not to act. But [the] Resistance Axis forces must decide how to deal with Soleimani’s death. So, if any Resistance Axis faction avenges his death, that [is] their decision, and Iran isn’t behind that,” says Nasrallah, according to one translator, David Daoud.

“It’s up to us how to respond. Do we content ourselves with mourning and eulogizing? We must all head towards just punishment. What do we mean by just punishment? Some are saying this must be someone of the same level as Qassem Soleimani – like Chairman of Joint Chiefs, head of @CENTCOM, but there is no one on Soleimani or Muhandis’ level. Soleimani’s shoe is worth more than Trump’s head, so there’s no one I can point to to say this is the person we can target.”

Instead, “just punishment therefore means American military presence in the region, US military bases, US military ships, every American officer and soldier in our countries and regions. The US military is the one who killed Soleimani and Muhandis, and they will pay the price. This is the equation.”

He warns against killing American civilians — not because Hezbollah has shied away from mass murder of civilians in the past, of course, but because “attacking US civilians anywhere serves Trump’s interests.”

“The American military institution put itself in the midst of battle by carrying out the assassination.”

Nasrallah: US military will leave ‘humiliated’ – and take Israel with it

Hassan Nasrallah promises that if Shiite militias attack US military assets in the Middle East, the Americans will eventually leave the region “humiliated, defeated, and terrified” — and will take Israel with them.

“We won’t accept our region, its holy places, and natural resources to be handed over to the Zionists,” the Hezbollah chief says in a video speech from Beirut about the American killing of Qassem Soleimani.

He calls on Shiite forces, the “axis of resistance,” to attack the US military.

“If the resistance axis heads in this direction, the Americans will leave our region, humiliated, defeated, and terrified. The suicide martyrs who forced the US out of the region before remain,” he says, according to a live translation by David Daoud.

“If our region’s peoples head in this direction — when the coffins of US soldiers and officers – they arrived vertically, and will return horizontally — Trump and his administration will know they lost the region, and will lose the [2020] elections,” he promises.

And then he turns to Israel. “[The] response to the blood of Soleimani and Al-Muhandis must be the expulsion of all US forces from the region. When we accomplish this goal, the liberation of Palestine will become imminent. When US forces leave the region, these Zionists will pack their bags and leave, and [we] might not need a battle with Israel.

“Trump and the fools with him don’t realize what they’ve done, but time will show them,” he enthuses.

On short notice, US fast-response force flies to Mideast

Being a US soldier in a fast-response force sometimes means being sent halfway across the world within a day, leaving no time to say goodbye to those staying behind.

That’s what happened to April Shumard when her husband, a member of the 82 Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, got the call. He was at home, minding the couple’s five children while Shumard was at work at Healing Hands day spa, when he sent her a text. He had to rush to base. He wasn’t sure if it was a drill or a deployment. Then she got another text: “We’re leaving tomorrow.”

She said her husband has been in the military since 2010 and has already deployed twice to Afghanistan. But with those prior instances, the family had much more time to prepare and say goodbye.

“The kids kept going, ‘When’s Dad going to be home?’” said Shumard, 42.

This photo provided by the US Army, paratroopers assigned to 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division walk as they prepare equipment and load aircraft bound for the US Central Command area of operations from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, January 4, 2020. (Spc. Hubert Delany III/U.S. Army via AP)

Her husband was among hundreds of US soldiers deployed Saturday from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to Kuwait to serve as reinforcements in the Middle East amid rising tensions following the US killing of a top Iranian general.

Lt. Col. Mike Burns, a spokesman for the 82nd Airborne Division, told The Associated Press 3,500 members of the division’s quick-deployment brigade, known officially as its Immediate Response Force, will have deployed within a few days. The most recent group of service members to deploy will join about 700 who left earlier in the week, Burns said.

A loading ramp at Fort Bragg was filled Saturday morning with combat gear and restless soldiers. Some tried to grab a last-minute nap on wooden benches. Reporters saw others filing onto buses.

US Army soldiers with their gear head to a waiting bus, January 4, 2020 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, as troops from the 82nd Airborne are deployed to the Middle East as reinforcements in the volatile aftermath of the killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani. (AP Photo/Chris Seward)

The additional troop deployments reflect concerns about potential Iranian retaliatory action in the volatile aftermath of Friday’s drone strike that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force who has been blamed for attacks on US troops and American allies going back decades.

President Donald Trump ordered the airstrike near Baghdad’s international airport. Iran has vowed retribution, raising fears of an all-out war, but it’s unclear how or when a response might come.

— AP

Pompeo: From now on we target Iranian decision-makers, not proxies

WASHINGTON — US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the Trump administration has abandoned the previous US administration’s focus on countering Iranian proxy groups like Hezbollah and suggests the US strike in Baghdad that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani was an example of the new strategy.

“We’re going to respond against the actual decision-makers, the people who are causing this threat from the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Pompeo says.

He also says any target the US military may strike in Iran, in the event Iran retaliates against America for killing its most powerful general, would be legal under the laws of armed conflict.

Pompeo was asked on ABC’s “This Week” about President Donald Trump’s assertion Saturday on Twitter that the United States has 52 Iranian targets in its sights, “some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture.”

The laws of armed conflict prohibit the deliberate targeting of cultural sites under most circumstances. The American Red Cross notes on its website that the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their additional protocols, ratified by scores of nations in recent years, states that “cultural objects and places of worship” may not be attacked and outlaws “indiscriminate attacks on civilian populations.”

Targeting cultural sites is a war crime under the 1954 Hague Convention for the protection of cultural sites. The UN Security Council also passed unanimously a resolution in 2017 condemning the destruction of heritage sites. Attacks by the Islamic State group and other armed factions in Syria and Iraq prompted that vote.

“Every target that we strike will be a lawful target, and it will be a target designed with a singular mission — defending and protecting America,” Pompeo says.

— AP

Iraq parliament votes to expel US military

Iraq’s parliament has voted to expel the US military from the country.

Lawmakers vote in favor of a resolution that calls for ending foreign military presence in the country. The resolution’s main aim is to get the US to withdraw some 5,000 US troops present in different parts of Iraq.

The vote comes two days after a US airstrike killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani inside Iraq, dramatically increasing regional tensions.

The Iraqi resolution specifically calls for ending an agreement in which Washington sent troops to Iraq more than four years ago to help in the fight against the Islamic State group.

The resolution was backed by most Shiite members of parliament, who hold a majority of seats.

Many Sunni and Kurdish legislators did not show up for the session, apparently because they oppose abolishing the deal.

— AP

Israeli analyst: Iran plans campaign of attacks on US forces in Middle East

A top Israeli analyst, Channel 12’s Ehud Ya’ari, says the Iranian strategy in responding to the US killing of Qassem Soleimani is becoming clear: guerilla attacks on US forces throughout the Middle East to make America’s presence in the region untenable.

A key signal of the new strategy was Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah’s speech in Beirut earlier today, in which he called for the “axis of resistance” to attack US military assets throughout the region.

Rescuers frantically seek man swept away in floodwaters near coastal town

Rescuers are frantically searching for a man believed trapped in a car that was carried away by a flash flood in northern Israel a short time ago.

A father and son were driving on a road near the coastal city of Zichron Yaakov, when floodwaters from the adjacent Taninim stream overwhelmed their car, flooded it and threatened to drag it away.

A passerby, reportedly a park ranger, saw the car and rushed into the floodwaters to pull out the boy. The boy was successfully rescued.

Before the man could return to the car for the trapped father, the car was swept away in the torrent down the Taninim.

A helicopter-borne Air Force rescue team is now in the air above the area helping in a nighttime search. Ground rescue teams from the Fire and Rescue Services are searching.

Berlin police stop removal of urn that angered Jewish groups

BERLIN — Activists say Berlin police prevented them from dismantling an art installation that angered Jewish groups after those who erected it claimed it contained Holocaust victims’ remains.

A group calling itself Performance Art Committee says about 20 of its members attempted to cut down a pillar holding an urn that was placed in front of the German parliament by the left-wing Center for Political Beauty last month.

The Performance Art Committee, which goes by the German acronym AKK, says its members include both Jewish and non-Jewish activists.

Berlin police spokesman Martin Halweg confirms to The Associated Press that a member of the Center for Political Beauty had submitted a criminal complaint for property damage to police.

Officers at the scene recorded the identities of four people and then ordered them to leave the site, which they did, he says. The pillar remains stable, Halweg adds.

The International Auschwitz Committee condemned the installation last month. Auschwitz survivors were “aghast at this installation, which hurts their feelings and the eternal peace of the dead of their murdered relatives,” the committee said.

The Center for Political Beauty, which is known for its provocative stunts, said the urn contained soil from 23 locations near Nazi death and concentration camps in Germany, Poland and Ukraine where the remains, including ashes, of Holocaust victims were dumped. The group said it didn’t open any graves.

— AP

More threats against Jews reported in Crown Heights

A man on a bicycle rode on several streets in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, shouting threats including “Kill the Jews,” local media is reporting.

The man, described as black and in his 30s, attracted the attention of passersby at about 10 p.m. on Saturday, Collive.com reports.

A witness called 911. Another filed a police report about the incident, CrownHeights.info reports.

Police are looking for surveillance video to try to identify the man on the bicycle.

Earlier on Saturday, a black man wearing a hoodie and sweatpants walked on a street in Crown Heights shouting “Hitler did not kill enough of you in the gas chambers” and other verbal abuse, CrownHeights.info reports.

— JTA

PA president’s spokesman says no comment on Soleimani killing

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, declines to comment on the US’s killing of powerful Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.

“It is an issue that we don’t have anything to deal with it,” Abu Rudeineh tells a group of Israeli reporters in Ramallah, contending that the killing is an “Israeli-American-Iranian problem.”

“Our policy has always been clear. We don’t interfere in the politics of the others — whether Israel, Iran or America,” he adds.

Abu Rudeineh also says that the PA’s security coordination with the US and Israel is ongoing.

“You would be surprised that our security coordination with the CIA and the Shin Bet are still going. Just for one simple reason: We are still committed to fight terror and we are still committed to peace,” he says.

— Adam Rasgon

Pompeo sees ‘real likelihood’ Iran ‘will make mistake’ of hitting US troops

WASHINGTON — US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says Iran will probably try to attack American troops after a US strike killed a top Iranian commander.

“We think there is a real likelihood Iran will make a mistake and make a decision to go after some of our forces, military forces in Iraq or soldiers in northeast Syria,” he tells Fox News.

His comments come as the military adviser to Iran’s supreme leader says there would be a “military” response “against military sites” by Tehran after the US killing of Qassem Soleimani, the powerful commander of Iran’s Quds Force, the foreign operations arm of its Revolutionary Guards.

“It would be a big mistake for Iran to go after them,” Pompeo says.

The US has about 60,000 troops in the region, including around 5,200 in Iraq. Washington ordered thousands more soldiers to the Middle East on Friday after Soleimani’s killing.

“We’re preparing for all kinds of various responses,” including cyber attacks, Pompeo says.

— AFP

Iran official says Israeli cities can be targets

A former leader of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard says the Israeli cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa can be targeted to avenge a general killed by a US drone strike in Baghdad.

Mohsen Rezaee makes the comment in Tehran at a ceremony in honor of the slain military chief Qassem Soleimani.

Rezaee has previously alleged Israel somehow leaked information about Soleimani’s whereabouts to US forces, who killed him Friday in a drone strike.

— AP

Ex-IDF no. 2 says Iranian reprisal will be geared to avoid further escalation

The former deputy commander of the Israeli army says Iran is looking to avenge the killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, but fears American reprisals.

“The Iranians have a dilemma: if [the attack is] too weak, people will say, ‘They don’t respond.’ If too strong, they’ll bring down on their heads the full brunt of the most powerful nation on Earth,” Maj. Gen. (res.) Yair Golan says in a Channel 12 interview.

Golan was one of the top military planners of Israel’s campaign of air strikes and special forces operations against Iran’s military forces in Syria.

The Iranian response, he says, “probably won’t come in the coming days, but we’re going to see going forward actions from Iran meant to demonstrate a response, but not too strong a response.”

He also cautions against some Israeli leaders’ enthusiastic endorsements of Soleimani’s killing as dealing a decisive blow to Iranian aspirations in the region.

“Soleimani was very talented and experienced, 21 years on the job,” Golan acknowledges. “On the other hand, let’s not exaggerate. We are all replaceable. They appointed a replacement immediately, and the replacement [Maj. Gen. Esmail Ghaani] is also a very experienced figure in Iran’s shadow activities.”

In the end, “Iran’s capabilities have not shrunk meaningfully. Developments in Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon will limit it more than any single assassination.”

Roads closed in north amid unexpectedly intense rainfall

Police announce the closure of part of Route 2, the coastal highway connecting Tel Aviv and Haifa, in an area next to Zichron Yaakov, due to flooding from downpours.

Route 652 near Binyamina is also closed due to flooding.

In the northern coastal town of Nahariya, police close Haga’aton Boulevard and, together with fire and rescue services, are busy pulling drivers out of cars trapped by floodwaters on the street.

Resignation calls for GOP leader in Delaware over Facebook posts about Jews

A Republican Party leader in Delaware is under fire for Facebook comments about Jews.

Sussex County Republican Party Vice Chair Nelly Jordan in her post singled out Jews as mainly responsible for the impeachment of President Donald Trump. Her Facebook page appears to have been deleted.

“What amazes me the most in these theatrical Congress hearings, is to see how many Jews ‘In Name Only’ lend themselves to be in the hoaks (sic) of the pure made up story of Impeachment that the Democrats have woven as spiders catching flies and bugs,” the post said, according to a report in the Delaware State News.

“These jews (sic) have been enrolled to come and testify, to come and interrogate and to be involved in anything that the Democrats enlist them to do to try to look credible to the people of this country,” the post also said.

Jordan also wrote Jews were going against the Lord’s will “as it was in the times of the Old Testament.”

“The remarks made by Nelly Jordan, who was elected to her post by the Sussex County GOP Executive Committee, were offensive, hurtful and anti-Semitic,” state GOP Chairwoman Jane Brady said in a statement issued Thursday.

The statement said since Jordan was elected she can not be immediately removed from her post. “Nelly will have to make a choice of either resigning or going through a process to seek her removal,” Brady said.

State Republican leaders called on Jordan to step down. She has not commented on her posts or the calls for her resignation.

— JTA

Iran says will no longer abide by nuclear deal limits

Iranian state television reports that Iran will no longer abide by any of the limits of its 2015 nuclear deal.

The announcement comes tonight after another Iranian official says it would consider taking even harsher steps over the US killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani on Friday in Baghdad.

It’s unclear what this means for the program, especially when it comes to enrichment of uranium. Authorities did not immediately elaborate.

— AP

Iran abandons limits on uranium enrichment

Iranian state TV, citing a statement by President Hassan Rouhani’s administration, says the country will not observe limitations on uranium enrichment, the amount of stockpiled enriched uranium as well as research and development in its nuclear activities.

The announcement means Tehran will no longer abide by any of the limits of its unraveling 2015 nuclear deal with world powers after a US airstrike killed a top Iranian general in Baghdad on Friday.

Iran does not elaborate on what levels it would immediately reach in its program.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations watchdog observing Iran’s program, does not immediately respond to a request for comment. However, Iran says its cooperation with the IAEA “will continue as before.”

Iranian officials planned to meet Sunday night to discuss taking a fifth step away from its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, one that could be even greater than planned, Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi told journalists earlier today.

Iran previously has broken limits of its enrichment, its stockpiles and its centrifuges, as well as restarted enrichment at an underground facility after the US withdrew from the 2015 accord last year.

— AP

Sen. Warren says Trump trying to distract Americans with Soleimani killing

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who is running for the Democratic nomination for president, suggests US President Donald Trump ordered the killing of Iranian general Qassem Suleimani on Friday as a stunt to distract Americans from his impeachment trial.

“We know Donald Trump is very upset about this upcoming impeachment trial,” she tells NBC’s Meet the Press. “But look what he’s doing now. He is taking us to the edge of war.”

The comment is the most high-level accusation yet from Trump’s opponents that the controversial assassination was a political act, and not, as the Trump administration has claimed, an act of self-defense against a man planning attacks on US troops.

Britain will not lament death of Soleimani, PM Johnson says

Britain will not lament the death of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says, though he warns that reprisals would lead to greater violence.

The United States killed top military leader Soleimani outside Baghdad airport in a drone strike on Friday.

In his first intervention on the escalation of tensions in the Middle East, Johnson says he had spoken Sunday with US President Donald Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. He says he will speak to other leaders in the coming days.

“General Qassem Soleimani posed a threat to all our interests and was responsible for a pattern of disruptive, destabilizing behavior in the region,” Johnson says in a statement.

“Given the leading role he has played in actions that have led to the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians and Western personnel, we will not lament his death. It is clear however that all calls for retaliation or reprisals will simply lead to more violence in the region and they are in no one’s interest.”

Johnson says that following ministerial meetings and further international calls, MPs would be updated on the situation on Tuesday.

British troops are part of an international coalition of forces stationed in Iraq — invited by the government in Baghdad in 2014 — to help fight against the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group.

— AFP

Turkish president Erdogan seeks calm amid US-Iran crisis

Turkey’s president calls for deescalation between Iran and the US following America’s killing of an Iranian general. He says the slaying of a top commander will likely not go unanswered, and voices concern about regional security risks.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s first public comments on the killing come in a televised interview. He says he was surprised because the strike occurred just hours after a phone call with US President Donald Trump.

Erdogan says he “especially had suggested to (Trump) that tensions with Iran should not be heightened” during that call.

Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani’s killing in a drone strike in Baghdad has escalated the crisis between Iran and the US. Tehran has since abandoned all limits of its 2015 nuclear deal, and Iraq’s parliament called for the expulsion of all American troops from Iraqi soil.

Turkey shares a border with Iran, Iraq and Syria.

— AP

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Berlin police stop removal of urn that angered Jewish groups

BERLIN — Activists say Berlin police prevented them from dismantling an art installation that angered Jewish groups after those who erected it claimed it contained Holocaust victims’ remains.

A group calling itself Performance Art Committee says about 20 of its members attempted to cut down a pillar holding an urn that was placed in front of the German parliament by the left-wing Center for Political Beauty last month.

The Performance Art Committee, which goes by the German acronym AKK, says its members include both Jewish and non-Jewish activists.

Berlin police spokesman Martin Halweg confirms to The Associated Press that a member of the Center for Political Beauty had submitted a criminal complaint for property damage to police.

Officers at the scene recorded the identities of four people and then ordered them to leave the site, which they did, he says. The pillar remains stable, Halweg adds.

The International Auschwitz Committee condemned the installation last month. Auschwitz survivors were “aghast at this installation, which hurts their feelings and the eternal peace of the dead of their murdered relatives,” the committee said.

The Center for Political Beauty, which is known for its provocative stunts, said the urn contained soil from 23 locations near Nazi death and concentration camps in Germany, Poland and Ukraine where the remains, including ashes, of Holocaust victims were dumped. The group said it didn’t open any graves.

— AP