Timeline: How the Iran crisis unfolded after Qassem Soleimani’s murder

Euronews with AP – In the early hours on Friday, 3 January, the US conducted an airstrike at Baghdad airport that killed Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Here is how events and reaction to the news unfolded.

Timeline: Killing of Iranian military chief Qassem Soleimani

(Please scroll to the bottom to begin, all times approximate and in GMT)

21:36 US security experts warn of Iran’s retaliation through cyberattacks. Iran’s state-backed hackers are already among the world’s most aggressive and could inject malware that triggers major disruptions to the U.S. public and private sector.

20:22 US President Donald Trump said that Soleimani was killed “to stop a war” and that the US is “ready and prepared” for any response. The US does not want a “regime change” in Tehran, he said.

Soleimani, Trump added, was plotting “imminent and sinister attacks”. “We caught him in the act and terminated him”, Trump said.

“His reign of terror is over”, Trump announced, adding `that “a lot of lives would have been saved” if he Soleimani had been killed years ago.

19:15 Former Afghan President Hamed Karzai has condemned the US airstrike in Iraq that killed the general who led Iran’s elite Quds Force.

In a statement late Friday, Karzai said the targeted attack at Baghdad International Airport violated international laws and risked regional peace and stability.

18:18 Iran’s Foreign Ministry confirms that a Swiss envoy has been summoned for a second time.

18:15 The US announces it is sending 3,000 more troops to the Middle East as reinforcements.

17:06 UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urges leaders to “exercise maximum restraint,” adding that “the world cannot afford another war in the Gulf.”

16:35 Iran’s deputy foreign minister Abbas Araghchi tweets that there are Americans and Europeans who owe their lives to Soleimani because of his efforts to defeat so-called Islamic State.

16:08 Hezbollah officials gather at the Iranian embassy in Beirut. Hussein Khalil, advisor to Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah. says Trump has committed a “completely foolish” act.

16:00 The question of the legality of the attack starts being discussed in the media.

15:30 US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the attack was wholly lawful on FOX News.

14:00 Russia characterises the US strike as “fraught with serious consequences,” adding that such actions “lead to a new round of escalating tension.”

13:54 Donald Trump tweets for the first time after the attack saying Iran will never be able to “properly admit” that Soleimani was “both hated and feared within the country”

13:15 Iraq’s most powerful Shi’ite leader warned of “very difficult times ahead” during Friday prayer and calls for restraint from all sides.

12:57 Iran’s state television reports that ten people were killed in the drone strike. Five of them were members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.

12:50 Anti-US protests break out in India-administered Kashmir and Pakistan.

12:50 German defence ministry says its soldiers in Iraq have been ordered to stay on their bases.

12:45 Reports show surging oil prices and declining stock markets over “geopolitical uncertainty.”

12:40 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says US President Donald Trump “deserves all the credit for acting swiftly, forcefully and decisively.”

12:30 Thousands of people take to the streets in Tehran in outrage over Soleimani killing.

AP Photo/Vahid Salemi

Protesters demonstrate over the U.S. airstrike in Iraq that killed Iranian Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Tehran, Iran, Friday Jan. 3, 2020.AP Photo/Vahid Salemi


12:25 Former US National Security adviser John Bolton congratulates all involved for “eliminating” Iran’s top military commander.

12:10 Iran announces the commander to replace Soleimani. His name is Major General Esmail Ghaani.

11:53 The British government urges caution after the drone strike and says “”further conflict is in none of our interests”.

11:00 Top Israeli defence officials hold a security meeting in reaction to the killing of Soleimani.

10:50 France’s Junior Minister for Foreign Affairs Amelie de Montchalin says in a radio interview that “we are waking up in a more dangerous world.” She also points out that French President Emmanuel Macron and his foreign minister were reaching out to “all the actors in the region.”

10:45 Hamas condemns “the crime committed by the United States.”

10:30 Hundreds of mourners gather outside Soleimani home in Kerman, Iran.

10:10 Iraq’s Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi said Friday the men killed were `major symbols in achieving victory against` “Islamic State group militants. He called the attack that killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis an aggression against Iraq.“”

9:15 China says it is “highly concerned about the incident” and opposes “the use of force in international relations.”

9:10 Friday prayers take place in Iran.

9:10 Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif calls US attack an “act of state terrorism.”

9:00 Democratic candidates Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren release statements warning of a “dangerous escalation”.

8:57 Syria strongly condemns what it calls “treacherous American criminal aggression.”

8:45 US urges its citizens to leave Iraq immediately.

8:36 Supreme Leader Khameini tweets “In the Name of God, the Beneficient, the Merciful”, a Quranic sentence that indicates the beginning of something.

8:30 Iranian Revolutionary Guard spokesman General Ramezan Sharif vows that Iran will retaliate.

8:00 Iraqi protesters take to the streets in reaction to the killing.

8:00 Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warns the US that a “harsh retaliation is waiting” on Iranian TV.

7:00 The Hashtags #WWII and #Worldwar3 start trending on Twitter

6:40 Iran summons the Swiss charge d’affaires, who represents US interests in Tehran.

5:45 Iran and the US confirm that the head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Qassem Soleimani was killed in a drone strike at Baghdad airport in the early hours on Friday.