Crowds swarm Tehran to mourn slain Iran military leader Soleimani

By Fernando Alfonso III, Ivana Kottasová, Amir Vera, Jessie Yeung and Eliza Mackintosh, CNN

Updated 9:43 a.m. ET, January 6, 2020
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3:45 p.m. ET, January 5, 2020

At least two rockets hit Baghdad's Green Zone

From CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq

At least two Katyusha rockets hit the International Zone in Baghdad — commonly called the Green Zone — late Sunday evening, according to new information released in a statement from the Iraq Defense Ministry.

A third Katyusha rocket landed near the Green Zone, according to the statement.

It is unclear if there were any casualties or damage to any structures. It is also unclear who shot the rockets.

On Saturday, a rocket impacted the Green Zone, the Iraqi Army said in the statement at the time.

The Green Zone contains the parliament, ministries and foreign embassies, including that of the US. Some of the Green Zone is protected by barriers.

2:31 p.m. ET, January 5, 2020

Iranian foreign minister: "There will no longer be any restriction on number of centrifuges"

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted details on the legislative action decided upon by Iranian cabinet members Sunday in which the country will no longer limit itself to the nuclear restrictions set forth in 2015 by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“As 5th & final REMEDIAL step under paragraph 36 of JCPOA, there will no longer be any restriction on number of centrifuges. This step is within JCPOA & all 5 steps are reversible upon EFFECTIVE implementation of reciprocal obligations Iran's full cooperation w/IAEA will continue," Zarif tweeted today.

More on the JCPOA: Under the terms of the nuclear deal, Iran had committed to not using advanced centrifuges to enrich uranium, among other restrictions on its nuclear program, in exchange for the removal of strict sanctions.

But the pact has been in jeopardy since May 2018, when President Trump withdrew the US from the agreement. The deal is still supported by five other nations -- Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia.

Since withdrawing from the pact, Washington has passed multiple rounds of sanctions on Iran, crippling the country's economy. Earlier this year, Rouhani said Iran would partially withdraw from the deal in response.

1:20 p.m. ET, January 5, 2020

Iran to continue uranium enrichment with no limitations based on 2015 nuclear deal

From CNN's Artemis Moshtaghian

After a much anticipated cabinet meeting where Iranian officials discussed the fifth and final phase of cutting down its nuclear commitments, it was decided that Iran will no longer limit itself to the restrictions set forth in 2015 by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), according to a statement on state-run news agency IRNA.

“Iran will set their limits based on their technical needs,” the statement reads. “Iran will continue to work with international nuclear agencies and will return to JCPOA limits once all sanctions are removed from the country."

The limits to nuclear operations outlined in the statement include abiding by limits on uranium enrichment, percentage of uranium enrichment, amount of enriched materials and research and development associated with nuclear operations.

1:45 p.m. ET, January 5, 2020

Coalition temporarily stops counter-ISIS missions to protect forces and bases in the region

From CNN's  Ryan Browne

The coalition fighting ISIS announced today it was temporarily stopping its counter-ISIS missions because it needs to use all resources to protect coalition forces and Iraqi bases housing them following the airstrike that killed Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad on Friday.

Citing the recent attacks by the Kata'ib Hezbollah militia which have resulted in the deaths of a US civilian contractor and Iraqi security forces, the coalition said, “As a result we are now fully committed to protecting the Iraqi bases that host Coalition troops."

“This has limited our capacity to conduct training with partners and to support their operations against Daesh and we have therefore paused these activities, subject to continuous review,” the coalition said in a statement, using the alternative name Daesh for ISIS.

Some context: CNN reported last week that coalition forces had decided to only conduct “limited” counter-ISIS missions with the Iraqi Security Forces and prioritizing force protection due to the attacks by Kata'ib Hezbollah and other security concerns. This has now turned into a full pause.

“We remain resolute as partners of the Government of Iraq and the Iraqi people that have welcomed us into their country to help defeat ISIS. We remain ready to return our full attention and efforts back to our shared goal of ensuring the lasting defeat of Daesh,” the coalition said in its statement.
12:44 p.m. ET, January 5, 2020

Some senior US officials say there is deep opposition to the idea of targeting cultural sites in Iran

From CNN's Jim Sciutto

 Iranians march behind a vehicle carrying the coffins of slain major general Qasem Soleimani and others as they pay homage in the northeastern city of Mashhad on Jan. 5.
 Iranians march behind a vehicle carrying the coffins of slain major general Qasem Soleimani and others as they pay homage in the northeastern city of Mashhad on Jan. 5. Photo by MOHAMMAD TAGHI/TASNIM NEWS/AFP via Getty Images

Two senior US officials currently serving tell CNN there is “deep opposition” within the administration to targeting cultural sites in Iran.

This follows President Trump’s tweet Saturday evening threatening that as part of retaliation if Iran attacks US interests. 

“Nothing rallies people like the deliberate destruction of beloved cultural sites. Whether ISIS’s destruction of religious monuments or the burning of the Leuven library in WWI, history shows targeting locations giving civilization meaning is not only immoral but self-defeating. The Persian people hold a deeply influential and beautiful history of poetry, logic, art, and science. Iran’s leaders do not live up to that history. But America would be better served by leaders who embrace Persian culture, not threaten to destroy it,” one of the officials told CNN.

“As a matter of principle, we as a nation and as a military do not attack the culture sites of any adversary,” a former Trump and Obama career administration official said.

Several sources tell CNN there are no indications at this time that the US would strike cultural sites in Iran . 

The White House did not return a request for comment Saturday evening requesting details regarding the President’s tweet. CNN has asked for comment today regarding the opposition within the administration.

CNN’s Alex Marquardt contributed to this story

11:12 a.m. ET, January 5, 2020

Hezbollah leader vows to drive US forces out of the Middle East

From CNN's Tamara Qiblawi and Schams Elwazer

Photo by MAHMOUD ZAYYAT/AFP via Getty Images
Photo by MAHMOUD ZAYYAT/AFP via Getty Images

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah has vowed to mete out "just retribution" for the killing of Iran’s top military general Qasem Soleimani, promising to expel US forces from the region. 

“The US military presence in the region, US military bases, US military vessels, every US officer and soldier in our region and in our countries and on our lands. The US military are the ones who killed [Soleimani and al-Muhandis] and they are the ones who will pay the price,” said Nasrallah in a televised speech today. 

“Soleimani is not only an Iranian issue, he is all of the axis of resistance,” Nasrallah added. “Soleimani is the Muslim nation.”

Hezbollah, an Iran-backed Lebanese armed group and political party, is part of a coalition of fighting groups which includes Yemeni Houthi rebels, Islamic Jihad fighters in Gaza and Popular Mobilization Forces in Iraq. Soleimani is widely seen as having masterminded the so-called “axis of resistance.” 

“This is an American beginning in the region. We didn’t go attack them. They started a new war, of a new kind, in the region,” Nasrallah said.

He said that the deaths of Soleimani and Iraqi paramilitary leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, also killed in the attack, marked “the beginning of a new phase and a new history, not just for Iran or Iraq but for the entire region.”

Before the airstrike: In his speech, Nasrallah said Soleimani visited him in Beirut on New Year’s Day – two days before Soleimani was killed in a US strike in Baghdad airport.

The Hezbollah chief said he felt that the US was planning to assassinate Soleimani. According to Nasrallah, Soleimani smiled and said “I hope so.”

11:18 a.m. ET, January 5, 2020

Thousands of people in Iran mourn the death of Soleimani

From CNN's Artemis Moshtaghian

Morteza Jaberian/Mehr News Agency via AP
Morteza Jaberian/Mehr News Agency via AP

Thousands of mourners attended a funeral ceremony today for Qasem Soleimani and his comrades, who were killed in Iraq in a US drone strike Friday.

The mourners were seen in the southwestern city of Ahvaz, Iran, today.

The body of Soleimani arrived as President Trump threatened to bomb 52 sites in the Islamic Republic if Tehran retaliates by attacking Americans, according to the Mehr News Agency.

The scheduled ceremony for Soleimani slated to take place at Tehran's Grand Mosalla on Sunday night has been cancelled due to the delayed procession caused by the large turnout of mourners who showed up in Mashhad, according to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

The IRGC cited the late arrival of Soleimani’s body to Tehran as a cause for the cancellation. Mourners were advised to attend a ceremony slated to take place at the University of Tehran on Monday.

Mohammad Hossein Thaghi/Tasnim News Agency via AP
Mohammad Hossein Thaghi/Tasnim News Agency via AP

10:21 a.m. ET, January 5, 2020

Iraqi parliament votes for government to work on plan to end US troop presence in Iraq

From CNN's team in Baghdad

The Iraqi parliament has voted to obligate the Iraqi government "to work towards ending the presence of all foreign troops on Iraqi soil,” according to the media office of the Iraqi parliament.  

10:16 a.m. ET, January 5, 2020

Iraq complains to UN about US strike

From CNN's Hira Humayun

Abu Mahdi al-Mohandis
Abu Mahdi al-Mohandis HAIDAR MOHAMMED ALI/AFP via Getty Images

Iraq’s Foreign Ministry filed a complaint via two letters to the president of the United Nations Security Council and UN Secretary General, about the “American attacks and assaults against Iraqi military locations,” according to a Foreign Ministry statement. 

The complaint was also about the death of Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, deputy head of the Iran-backed Iraqi Popular Mobilization, and others on Iraqi soil.

“These attacks represent a serious violation of Iraqi sovereignty and the conditions of the presence of the American forces in Iraq," the statement read, adding, “Iraq called on the Security Council to condemn the bombing and assassinations.”