The Latest: US killing of Soleimani shakes Mideast markets

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BEIRUT (AP) – The latest on U.S.-Iran tensions (all times local):

12:15 p.m.

Major stock markets in the Middle East are trading down on fears of a conflict between Iran and the U.S. after an American drone strike killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

The Boursa Kuwait closed down 4%. The Dubai Financial Market closed down just over 3%. Riyadh’s Tadawul was down 1.7% as trading continued. The Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange fell 1.42%.

Meanwhile, oil prices continued to rise. Brent crude traded up 3.5% to $68.60 a barrel.

The U.S. killed Soleimani on Friday. Early Sunday, as Iran threatened “harsh retaliation,” President Donald Trump tweeted the U.S. was prepared to strike 52 sites in the Islamic Republic if any Americans are harmed.

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11:50 a.m.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says President Donald Trump is “worthy of all appreciation” for ordering the killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

Netanyahu told his Cabinet Sunday that Soleimani “initiated, planned and carried out many terror attacks” in the Middle East and beyond. Israel has long accused Soleimani of being the mastermind of Iran’s belligerency in the region.

Netanyahu said Israel stood alongside the United States in its current campaign against Iran.

Netanyahu has been among the strongest voices against Iran’s Islamic rulers in recent years. The Israeli leader pushed hard against the nuclear deal Western powers signed with Tehran in 2015 and which Trump later reversed.

The United States killed Soleimani in a drone airstrike at Baghdad’s international airport early Friday. The Iranian commander was widely seen as the architect of Tehran’s proxy wars in the Middle East.

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11:45 a.m.

The deputy leader of Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group says the United States carried out a “very stupid act” by killing Iran’s Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

Sheikh Naim Kassem made his comments on Sunday after paying a visit to the Iranian embassy in Beirut where he paid condolences. He said the attack will make Tehran and its allies stronger.

Kassem told reporters “now we have more responsibilities” adding that the United States will discover that “its calculations” were wrong.

Heazbollah is a close ally of Iran’s and considered part of a regional Iranian-backed alliance of proxy militias.

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11:40 a.m.

Iranian officials are criticizing President Donald Trump’s threats to target sites important to Iran’s culture.

Trump threatened Iranian cultural sites would be hit fast and hard if Tehran attacks U.S. assets to avenge the killing of a powerful Iranian general.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif wrote on Twitter Sunday that after committing “grave breaches” in the killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, Trump is threatening new breaches of international law.

Zarif wrote: “Targeting cultural sites is a WAR CRIME.”

Telecommunications minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi compared Trump’s threats to the Islamic State group, Adolf Hitler and Genghis Khan.

“They all hate cultures. Trump is a ‘terrorist in a suit’,” Jahromi wrote on Twitter, warning that nobody can defeat Iran.

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11:30 a.m.

Iraq’s Iran-backed militias say that some remains of the Iranian top general and Iraqi militant leader killed in the U.S. drone strike in Iraq were sent to Iran for DNA tests to identify their corpses.

The Popular Mobilization Forces said in a statement Sunday that the bodies of the two commanders as well as an Iraqi bodyguard were torn to pieces and mangled by the explosion of the American missiles near Baghdad’s international airport.

It said the test will take few days after which the remains of the Iraqi commander, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, will be brought back to Iraq for burial in the holy Shiite city of Najaf.

Al-Muhandis was closely allied with Iran for decades.

Iran has declared three days of public mourning over Gen. Qassem Soleimani’s death in the U.S. attack.

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6:45 a.m.

The body of a top Iranian commander, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike, has arrived in Iran as the crisis between the two countries escalates.

Throngs of mourners carried Sunday the flag-draped casket of Gen. Qassem Soleimani off a plane in Ahvaz in southwestern Iran.

The U.S. drone strike targeting Soleimani in Iraq Friday also killed a leader of an Iran-backed Iraqi militia, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

President Donald Trump threatened to bomb 52 sites in Iran if it retaliates by attacking Americans.

The tensions take root in Trump pulling out of Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers. That accord soon likely will further unravel as Tehran is expected to announce as soon as Sunday another set of atomic limits the country will break.

Mourners carry the coffins of Iran’s Gen. Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of Iran-backed militias at the Imam Ali shrine in Najaf, Iraq, Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020. Iran has vowed “harsh retaliation” for the U.S. airstrike near Baghdad’s airport that killed Tehran’s top general and the architect of its interventions across the Middle East, as tensions soared in the wake of the targeted killing. (AP Photo/Anmar Khalil)
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