On 2 February, Ukrainian TV channel aired a leaked recording of the information exchange between the Iranian pilot of an Aseman Airlines flight and an Iranian air-traffic controller. The pilot allegedly stated in Persian that he saw a flash similar to missile fire in the sky, and then an explosion. Following the leak, the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the new evidence proved Iran was well-aware from the very first moments that the Ukraine passenger airplane was brought down by a missile. The following day Iran ceased co-operation with Ukraine in its investigation into the disaster due to this leaked recording. Iran resumed co-operation on 15 February.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei vowed to take "harsh revenge" against the U.S., and declared three days of mourning. President Hassan Rouhani also said Iran "will take revenge". Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called the attack "an extremely dangerous and foolish escalation". Iran sent a letter to the United Nations, calling it "[s]tate terrorism" and said it violated principles of international law. On 7 January, Iran's parliament approved a €200 million increase in the Quds Force's budget, to be used in two months. Reuters reported that some Iranians including Soleimani supporters fear that a war could break out at a time of economic hardship and widespread corruption. Some older Iranians recalled memories of the Iran–Iraq War.More Info
The head of the commission for accidents in the CAOI said they received no emergency message from the aircraft before the crash. It was reported that the aircraft's black boxes (the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) and flight data recorder (FDR)) had been recovered, but the CAOI said it was not clear to which country the recorders would be sent so the data could be analyzed. The association said it would not hand over the black boxes to Boeing or to U.S. authorities. On 9 January, the black boxes were reported, by Iranian investigators, to have been damaged and that some parts of their memory may have been lost. Mary Schiavo, a former U.S. Department of Transportation inspector general, said no automated distress messages had been sent from the aircraft or by its crew.More Info
Al-Manar reported that "in an extraordinary session on Sunday, 170 Iraqi lawmakers signed a draft law requiring the government to request the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. Only 150 votes are needed that the draft resolution be approved." There are 329 lawmakers in total. Rudaw Media Network (Kurdish) described the 170 Iraqi lawmakers that signed the law as Shiite and that "Iraqi parliament's resolution to expel foreign troops has no legal consequences." Al Jazeera reported the resolution read "The government commits to revoke its request for assistance from the international coalition fighting Islamic State due to the end of military operations in Iraq and the achievement of victory" and "The Iraqi government must work to end the presence of any foreign troops on Iraqi soil and prohibit them from using its land, airspace or water for any reason." The resolution was approved in the Iraqi parliament. In response to the vote, Trump threatened Iraq with sanctions that would "make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame" and demanded reimbursement for American investments on military facilities in Iraq.More Info
Shortly before the U.S. Department of Defense announced the strike, President Trump posted a U.S. flag on Twitter. The next morning, he held a public statement saying he had authorized the strike because Soleimani was plotting "imminent and sinister attacks" on Americans. He added, "We took action last night to stop a war. We did not take action to start a war." He also said he did not seek a regime change in Iran. On 4 January, Trump tweeted that 52 Iranian targets (representing the 52 American hostages in the 1979–81 Iran hostage crisis) had been selected if Iran "strikes any Americans, or American assets". Iranian President Rouhani responded to Trump's warning: "Those who refer to the number 52 should also remember the number 290", referring to the 1988 shooting down of Iran Air Flight 655, by a U.S. warship in which 290 were killed. Among those targets were Iranian "cultural sites", and Trump subsequently insisted he would not hesitate to destroy such targets even after some said it could be considered a war crime.More Info
On 4 January, the funeral procession for Soleimani, al-Muhandis, and the Iraqi and Iranian militants was held in Baghdad and attended by thousands of mourners who chanted "death to America, death to Israel". Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi was also present. The cortege began around Al-Kadhimiya Mosque, a Shiite holy site in Baghdad, before heading to the Green Zone government and diplomatic compound where a state funeral was held. From Baghdad, the procession moved to the Shia holy city of Karbala and on to Najaf, where al-Muhandis and the other Iraqis were buried, while the coffins of Soleimani and the Iranian nationals were sent to Iran. Following the mourning procession in Baghdad, unknown people fired short-range rockets towards the U.S. embassy and at the U.S. Balad Air Base. The U.S. Central Command, which oversees operations in the Middle East, said no Americans were harmed by the sporadic rocket attacks on 4 January.More Info
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