Archive for January 2, 2020

Pompeo thanks Netanyahu for support after Iraq embassy attack 

January 2, 2020

Source: Pompeo thanks Netanyahu for support after Iraq embassy attack | The Times of Israel

Foreign Minister Katz urges international community to fight ‘murderous’ Iran after pro-Tehran protesters storm Green Zone

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet in Lisbon, Portugal, December 4, 2019. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke late Wednesday to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, thanking him for Israel’s support in efforts to combat Iran and after the attack on the US Embassy in Iraq.

“Secretary Pompeo thanked Prime Minister Netanyahu for Israel’s unwavering commitment to countering Iran’s malign regional influence and its condemnation of the December 31 attack on the US Embassy in Baghdad,” the State Department said in a statement.

“The Secretary and Prime Minister reaffirmed the unbreakable bonds between the United States and Israel,” the statement said.

There was no immediate readout of the call from the Israeli side.

Secretary Pompeo

@SecPompeo

Pompeo also spoke with officials from Qatar.

The breach of the US Embassy compound in Baghdad also prompted Pompeo to postpone his trip to Ukraine and four other countries.

Pompeo was to arrive in Ukraine late Thursday in his first visit to the country at the center of US President Donald Trump’s impeachment, then on to Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Cyprus.

He delayed the trip “to continue monitoring the ongoing situation in Iraq and ensure the safety and security of Americans in the Middle East,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said Wednesday. She said he intends to reschedule soon.

Israel earlier Wednesday condemned an attack by pro-Iranian groups on the US embassy in Baghdad, accusing Tehran of erring by ordering the coordinated assault.

Foreign Minister Israel Katz at a Likud election campaign stop in Jerusalem, September 16, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The comments by Foreign Minister Israel Katz came hours after pro-Iran demonstrators left the besieged US embassy in Baghdad after the Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary force ordered them to withdraw a day after their dramatic incursion.

Thousands of Iraqi supporters of the largely Iranian-trained Hashed had encircled and vandalized the embassy compound Tuesday, outraged by US airstrikes that killed 25 Hashed fighters over the weekend.

“Iran made a grave mistake by attempting to harm American diplomats in Iraq,” Katz said in a statement.

“We call on the international community to stand determinedly against the crimes of the murderous regime in Tehran,” he added.

Katz linked the latest incident to Iran-linked attacks on diplomatic missions worldwide, including the deadly 1992 bombing of Israel’s embassy in Buenos Aires by the Iran-backed Hezbollah terrorist group, in which 29 people were killed.

In a radio interview Wednesday, the foreign minister said Iran could attack Israeli interests next, though he acknowledged the possibility was slim.

An Iraqi soldier stands guard in front of smoke rising from a fire set by pro-Iranian militiamen and their supporters in the US embassy compound , in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

“There is a possibility — the chances are not high, but it exists — that the Iranians could harm Israel and drag us into this,” Katz told Army Radio. “It must be clear to them that we will respond with great force to any attack.”

Tensions lingered on Wednesday after the Popular Mobilization Forces, an umbrella group of state-allied militias — many backed by Iran — called on its supporters to withdraw in response to an appeal by the Iraqi government, saying “your message has been received.”

In an orchestrated assault Tuesday, hundreds of militiamen and their supporters broke into the embassy compound, destroying a reception area, smashing windows, chanting “Death to America” and spraying pro-Iran graffiti on the walls.

Supporters of Iraq’s Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary force hold placards depicting trampled US symbols reading in Arabic ‘Welcome’ during a protest outside the US embassy in the Iraqi capital Baghdad on January 1, 2020 to condemn the US air strikes that killed 25 Hashed fighters over the weekend. (Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP)

The protesters set up a tent camp overnight and on Wednesday set fire to the reception area and hurled stones at US Marines guarding the compound, who responded with tear gas.

There were no injuries on either side and no American staff were evacuated from the compound.

Tuesday’s embassy attack was the latest episode in spiraling tensions between the United States and Iran since Washington abandoned a landmark nuclear deal with Tehran in 2018.

Many of those tensions have played out in Iraq, which has close ties with both governments.

US forces have faced a spate of rocket attacks in recent months, blaming them on pro-Iran Hashed factions.

US forces (unseen) fire teargas canisters at supporters and members of the Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary force during a demonstration outside the US embassy in the Iraqi capital Baghdad on January 1, 2020. (Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP)

Last week, one of those attacks killed a US contractor, prompting the retaliatory US air strikes that killed 25 fighters from Kataeb Hezbollah (Hezbollah Brigades).

President Donald Trump and other US officials have blamed Iran for attacks on US forces and the embassy.

“They will pay a very BIG PRICE! This is not a Warning, it is a Threat,” Trump wrote on Twitter, adding “Happy New Year!”

Iran’s supreme leader Wednesday condemned US strikes on Iraq and warned his country was ready to hit back.

“First of all, you can’t do a damn thing! This has nothing to do with Iran,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a speech on state television.

“If the Islamic Republic decides to oppose or fight against a country, it will do this explicitly,” he said.

 

Israel’s F 15I Ra’am רעם (Thunder) IAF 

January 2, 2020

Israel’s F 15I Ra’am רעם (Thunder) IAF

The F-15I is operated by the Israeli Air Force where it is known as the Ra’am (רעם – “Thunder”). It is a dual-seat ground attack aircraft powered by two Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-229 engines, and is based on the F-15E.

The F-15I Ra’am is similar to the F-15E, but features several different avionic systems to meet Israeli requirements. To facilitate night-time strikes, the F-15Is were initially fitted with Sharpshooter targeting pods designed for Israeli F-16s. The Sharpshooter pod was less capable than the LANTIRN pods used on USAF F-15Es; Israel later purchased 30 LANTIRN pods. The F-15Is initially lacked Radar Warning Receivers, Israel installed its own electronic warfare equipment, the Elisra SPS-2110, as well as a new central computer and embedded GPS/INS system. All sensors can be slaved to the Display And Sight Helmet (DASH) helmet-mounted sight, providing both crew members a means of targeting which the F-15E lacks.

The F-15I uses the APG-70I radar; its terrain mapping capability can locate targets difficult to spot while under adverse weather conditions. The radar can detect large airliner-sized targets at 150 nautical miles (170 mi; 280 km), and fighter-sized targets at 56 nmi (64 mi; 104 km), it has a reduced resolution one-third below the standard USAF APG-70.[118] In January 2016, Israel approved an upgrade of the F-15I fleet that includes structural changes, an AESA radar, updated avionics, and new (unspecified) weapon systems.

From Military TV

 

Israel: Iran made ‘grave mistake’ with attack on US embassy in Baghdad

January 2, 2020

Source: Israel: Iran made ‘grave mistake’ with attack on US embassy in Baghdad | The Times of Israel

Foreign Minister Katz urges international community to fight ‘murderous’ Iran after pro-Tehran protesters storm Green Zone

Smoke rises from the reception room of the US embassy that was burned by Pro-Iranian militiamen and their supporters, in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020.  (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

Smoke rises from the reception room of the US embassy that was burned by Pro-Iranian militiamen and their supporters, in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

Israel on Wednesday condemned an attack by pro-Iranian groups on the US embassy in Baghdad, accusing Tehran of erring by ordering the coordinated assault.

The comments by Foreign Minister Israel Katz came hours after pro-Iran demonstrators left the besieged US embassy in Baghdad after the Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary force ordered them to withdraw a day after their dramatic incursion.

Thousands of Iraqi supporters of the largely Iranian-trained Hashed had encircled and vandalized the embassy compound Tuesday, outraged by US airstrikes that killed 25 Hashed fighters over the weekend.

“Iran made a grave mistake by attempting to harm American diplomats in Iraq,” Katz said in a statement.

“We call on the international community to stand determinedly against the crimes of the murderous regime in Tehran,” he added.

Katz linked the latest incident to Iran-linked attacks on diplomatic missions worldwide, including the deadly 1992 bombing of Israel’s embassy in Buenos Aires by the Iran-backed Hezbollah terrorist group, in which 29 people were killed.

In a radio interview Wednesday, the foreign minister said Iran could attack Israeli interests next, though he acknowledged the possibility was slim.

An Iraqi soldier stands guard in front of smoke rising from a fire set by pro-Iranian militiamen and their supporters in the US embassy compound , in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

“There is a possibility — the chances are not high, but it exists — that the Iranians could harm Israel and drag us into this,” Katz told Army Radio. “It must be clear to them that we will respond with great force to any attack.”

Tensions lingered on Wednesday after the Popular Mobilization Forces, an umbrella group of state-allied militias — many backed by Iran — called on its supporters to withdraw in response to an appeal by the Iraqi government, saying “your message has been received.”

In an orchestrated assault Tuesday, hundreds of militiamen and their supporters broke into the embassy compound, destroying a reception area, smashing windows, chanting “Death to America” and spraying pro-Iran graffiti on the walls.

Supporters of Iraq’s Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary force hold placards depicting trampled US symbols reading in Arabic ‘Welcome’ during a protest outside the US embassy in the Iraqi capital Baghdad on January 1, 2020 to condemn the US air strikes that killed 25 Hashed fighters over the weekend. (Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP)

The protesters set up a tent camp overnight and on Wednesday set fire to the reception area and hurled stones at US Marines guarding the compound, who responded with tear gas.

There were no injuries on either side and no American staff were evacuated from the compound.

Tuesday’s embassy attack was the latest episode in spiraling tensions between the United States and Iran since Washington abandoned a landmark nuclear deal with Tehran in 2018.

Many of those tensions have played out in Iraq, which has close ties with both governments.

US forces have faced a spate of rocket attacks in recent months, blaming them on pro-Iran Hashed factions.

US forces (unseen) fire teargas canisters at supporters and members of the Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary force during a demonstration outside the US embassy in the Iraqi capital Baghdad on January 1, 2020. (Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP)

Last week, one of those attacks killed a US contractor, prompting the retaliatory US air strikes that killed 25 fighters from Kataeb Hezbollah (Hezbollah Brigades).

President Donald Trump and other US officials have blamed Iran for attacks on US forces and the embassy.

“They will pay a very BIG PRICE! This is not a Warning, it is a Threat,” Trump wrote on Twitter, adding “Happy New Year!”

Iran’s supreme leader Wednesday condemned US strikes on Iraq and warned his country was ready to hit back.

“First of all, you can’t do a damn thing! This has nothing to do with Iran,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a speech on state television.

“If the Islamic Republic decides to oppose or fight against a country, it will do this explicitly,” he said.

 

Barricade In Baghdad 

January 2, 2020

 

 

Iran’s Republican Guards chief: We can ‘break’ US but are not heading for war

January 2, 2020

Source: Iran’s Republican Guards chief: We can ‘break’ US but are not heading for war | The Times of Israel

Hossein Salami says Iranians are unconcerned by threats from Washington after Trump threatened action over embassy violence

Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander Major General Hossein Salami speaks during a pro-government rally in the capital Tehran’s central Enghelab Square on November 25, 2019. (ATTA KENARE / AFP)

The head of Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on Thursday said his country is not concerned by threats from the US, which it can “break” several times over.

“We are not leading the country to war, but we are not afraid of any war and we tell America to speak correctly with the Iranian nation,” Guards Commander Major General Hossein Salami was quoted as saying by Reuters, citing Iran’s Tasnim news agency.

“We have the power to break them several times over and are not worried,” he said.

Salami’s remarks came after the US President Donald Trump blamed Iran and threatened it with a response for an assault on the US embassy in Iraq during which pro-Iranian demonstrators breached the perimeter wall and burned property on the inside.

On Wednesday Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also dismissed US threats over the embassy violence saying Washington “can’t do anything.”

The rioting Tuesday and Wednesday at the US Baghdad embassy was sparked by weekend US airstrikes on an Iran-backed militia located in Iraq that Washington said was responsible for a rocket attack that killed a US civilian contractor. The US strikes killed 25 members of the Ketaeb Hezbollah group, a part of the state-sponsored Popular Mobilization Forces. There was wide public outrage in Iraq at the strikes, which were seen as a violation of Iraqi sovereignty.

Pro-Iranian militiamen and their supporters set a fire during a sit-in in front of the US embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, January 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

On Tuesday Trump threatened Iran with strong action over the embassy clashes.

“Iran will be held fully responsible for lives lost, or damage incurred, at any of our facilities,” he said on Twitter.

“They will pay a very BIG PRICE! This is not a Warning, it is a Threat,” wrote Trump, adding “Happy New Year!”

Later, he said he did not foresee war with Tehran over the embassy incident.

US President Donald Trump speaks to the press outside the grand ballroom as he arrives for a New Year’s celebration at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, on December 31, 2019. (JIM WATSON/AFP)

“I don’t see that happening,” Trump said at his holiday retreat in Florida when a reporter asked about the possibility of war with the Islamic Republic. “I like peace.”

US officials said there were no plans to evacuate the mission, and no US personnel were reported injured.

Meanwhile, Tehran summoned an official from the Swiss embassy, which represents US interests in Iran, to complain about American “warmongering” in Iraq, the foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

In a Wednesday statement, the Iranian foreign ministry said it had asked the Swiss charge d’affaires to inform the United States that “Iraq is an independent country.”

“The American army has martyred at least 25 young Iraqis and has wounded countless more without presenting the slightest evidence of them being at fault,” it said. “Naturally the people of Iraq react to the country that has occupied their country and kills their young people.”