Tanks have gathered at borders and troops are being drafted in the Middle East after a US drone strike killed Iran’s top general. Tensions have soared after the assassination of Major-General Qassem Soleimani near Baghadad airport, which has been described as ‘an explicit act of war’. US officials said the strike was ordered by President Donald Trump and resulted in the deaths of several other senior members of pro-Iran military groups based in Iraq. The US is set to deploy thousands of additional troops to the Middle East after Iran threatened ‘severe retaliation’, a US defence official told CNN Supreme leader Ali Khamenei tweeted soon after the incident saying: ‘Harsh vengeance awaits the criminals that got his [Soleimani] and other martyrs’ blood on their evil hands in last night’s incident.’
Experts have warned his death could have ‘huge consequences’ and almost certainly lead to loss of life. As World War III began trending on Twitter, the world went into war footing with many countries escalating their military presence at the borders. United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) armoured vehicle patrols the area around the border between the southern Lebanese town of Kfar Kila and Israeli town of Metullah. Israeli prime minister and Trump ally Benjamin Netanyahu said the US had the right to defend itself by killing commander Soleimani, adding they ‘deserve all the credit for acting swiftly, forcefully and decisively’. But Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah movement called for the missile strike to be avenged. ‘Meting out the appropriate punishment to these criminal assassins… will be the responsibility and task of all resistance fighters worldwide’ Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said in a statement.
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