Iran brands Britain America’s ‘partner in crime’ over handling of Qassim Soleimani assassination 

Iran has branded the UK “a partner in crime” with the US over the killing of its top general as the Defence Secretary took “urgent measures” to protect the safety of British troops in the region.

Britain’s ambassador to Tehran was on Tuesday summoned to the Iranian foreign ministry where he was told comments by Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab about the death of Qassim Soleimani were “unacceptable”.

The Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary have urged Iran to “de-escalate” the growing crisis, but after Mr Johnson said the US was justified in killing Soleimani Tehran communicated its fury with Britain via ambassador Rob Macaire.

It came as Nato began withdrawing troops from Iraq to protect them…

Iran’s proxies: where will Tehran take its revenge for Qassim Soleimani’s assassination and who will help it?

Iran has warned the United States to prepare for a “dark day” of revenge for the killing of General Qassim Soleimani – but it remains unclear how and when the regime will retaliate. 

Experts say one thing is likely, which is that any response to the US airstrike will be carried out by Iran’s large network of proxies in the Middle East, rather than its own soldiers or spies. 

This is because the Iranian regime is reluctant to trigger direct confrontation with the US, even though the assassination of Soleimani marks the biggest escalation between the two countries in decades. 

Here we look at where Iran-sympathising militias, political parties and insurgents have footholds in the Middle East, and…

Analysis: Why Iran’s rejection of uranium enrichment restrictions is cleverer than it looks

The hawks were gleeful when Iran announced it would no longer respect restrictions on uranium enrichment on Sunday.

“Another good day,” former White House security advisor John Bolton wrote on Twitter. Final proof, he said, that Iran had ditched the 2015 agreement Donald Trump’s administration controversially pulled out of last year. 

But that is not entirely – or even remotely – true.

Iran’s latest rejection of the terms of the 2015 nuclear agreement is actually more cautious and much more diplomatically shrewd than Mr Bolton claims. 

And that is important not only for arms control wonks. 

It also says a lot about the instincts that guide the Islamic Republic’s decision makers, and will probably…

Wife of British-Iranian engineer in Tehran prison fears Soleimani strike has destroyed all hope of release

The wife of a British-Iranian engineer held in prison in Tehran has said she fears he no longer stands a “hope in hell” of being released after the US strike on Iran’s top commander led the region to the brink of war.

Sherry Izadi, 56, told the Telegraph she was “terrified” that any chance of negotiation between the UK and Iran over Anoosheh Ashoori’s 10-year sentence was over.

Mrs Izadi spoke briefly to the 65-year-old retired civil engineer from Evin prison on Saturday morning: “He told me everyone there is very jittery. They are so scared of the fallout. 

“He had hoped that Iran would negotiate or relent on his release, but we feel that hope is now gone,” she said.

Sherry Izadi, 56, with her husband Anoosheh Ashoori, a 65-year-old retired civil engineer from London, jailed in Iran on espionage charges Credit: Sherry Izadi

Mr Ashoori, who has lived…

David Miliband underlines his commitment to dialogue with Iran

David Miliband said he is convinced that dialogue with Iran is the best way to secure stability in the Middle East, as he speaks for the first time about claims he called off an SAS plan to assassinate Qassim Soleimani. 

In a tweet, the former Labour foreign secretary said: “I did and do strongly believe that diplomatic engagement with Iran is the only route to a stable Middle East.”

His comments came after the Telegraph told how the SAS had Soleimani, Iran’s military chief, in their “crosshairs” in 2007 after he was identified as the mastermind behind a campaign to target UK troops in the southern port of Basra.

The Telegraph revealed how Mr Miliband vetoed the operation, meaning Soleimani survived…

The death of Soleimani shows Iran that it cannot strike with impunity

The assassination of Iranian commander Qassim Soleimani by an American air strike in the early hours of Friday morning sends an unequivocal message to Tehran that it can no longer threaten the US and its allies with impunity.

As the head of the elite Quds Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, which is responsible for conducting Iran’s overseas military operations, Soleimani has been a key figure in masterminding Tehran’s proxy war against the West and its Arab allies in the region.

Soleimani first came to prominence following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, when he was in charge of the Iran-sponsored Shia militias in southern Iraq that carried out a series of attacks against British troops based in…

Qassim Soleimani: the possible targets for Iran’s ‘crushing revenge’ over assassination

Tehran will not leave the killing of its top commanders unanswered, and yesterday vowed "crushing revenge" over the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani. 

 The raid dramatically escalated already tense relations between the US and Iran, who have for months been fighting a shadow war.

The US is now bracing for a response, though it is unclear yet what form it will take.

Direct attacks

Iran showed in September with an attack on Saudi Arabia’s biggest oil field that is is capable of sophisticated and long-range attacks from its soil, if US intelligence is to be believed. Such a range would bring tourist-friendly cities such as Dubai in the UAE within striking distance.

But a direct attack on…

Analysis: The killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani far eclipses the deaths of Bin Laden and Baghdadi

The killing of Qassem Soleimani is one of the biggest developments in the Middle East for decades – it far eclipses the deaths of Bin Laden or Baghdadi in terms of strategic significance and implications.

The US and Iran have been engaged in a dangerous tit-for-tat for months now, but this is a massive walk up the escalation ladder.

Israel has repeatedly spurned the opportunity to kill Soleimani for fear of the consequences of taking out Iran’s most powerful operative in the world, someone whose power is outshone only by Iran’s Supreme Leader.

His death is a serious loss for Iran’s regional agenda, but his “martyrdom” will likely fuel a response that will, at least in the medium term, make up…

Bullets and blackout: inside four days of killing in Iran

Pouya Bakhtiari could barely contain his excitement as he sat in gridlocked traffic on the motorway between Tehran and his home city of Karaj. 

The 27-year-old Iranian engineer filmed on his mobile as motorists parked their cars in the middle of the busy roadway to protest a sudden hike in petrol prices pushed through by the government. 

Other drivers may have been frustrated but Pouya was thrilled by the open display of defiance against Iran’s rulers. “People, don’t miss this opportunity. Once and for all let’s destroy this criminal and corrupt regime,” he told the camera. 

As the minutes dragged on and the traffic did not budge, Pouya turned his phone towards the setting sun. “Here is a gorgeous…

US warnings over spate of Iranian-backed rocket attacks on its bases in Iraq

Attacks on bases hosting US-led coalition forces by Iranian-armed militias are heading towards a red line for the coalition, who would respond with such force that “no one would like the outcome,” a senior US official warned on Wednesday.

Just hours later a further two rockets hit near the military section of Baghdad airport.

The attack is the tenth of its type since October, targeting joint US-Iraqi military facilities that host forces from the US-led coalition to defeat Isil.  

Speaking to Reuters on the condition of anonymity, the US official reportedly said that while there were no claims of responsibility for the attacks, intelligence and forensic analyses indicated Iranian-backed Shi’ite Muslim militia groups are behind them.

The Iraqi paramilitary groups and the US are trading blame on the series of attacks.

“We’re waiting for full evidence…If past is prologue, I’d say there’s a good chance it was Iran that’s behind it,” David Schenker, the US Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs, told reporters last Friday. Two further attacks have happened since.

The rocket attacks come amid US accusations that Iran has capitalised on the continued unrest in Iraq to secretly move short-range ballistic missiles into the country.

The Trump administration hit Iran with fresh sanctions on Wednesday in an effort to intensify their “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes. 

The sanctions target several transportation firms in the Islamic Republic, including the state-shipping line, as well as a China-based company that has been involved in delivering missile parts to Iran. 

Piling economic sanctions and ramped up rhetoric have been a pillar of the “maximum pressure” campaign since Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal with Iran in May 2018.

Iran has since taken several major steps away from the deal amid fears of a war with the US, further exacerbating tensions. 

An attack on Monday saw four Katyusha rockets hit a base near Baghdad airport, wounding five members of Iraq’s elite Counter-Terrorism Service. A larger 240-millimetre rocket was used in a similar attack near the airport on Friday, which is thought to have not been used in Iraq since 2011.