US Defence Secretary Mark Esper has denied US troops are pulling out of Iraq. Mr Esper said there had been “no decision whatsoever to leave”. The confusion came amid Iraqi threats to American forces as Iraq’s council of representatives held an extraordinary session on Sunday to vote on a resolution for the Iraqi government to expel American and foreign military troops, after the US killed top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani in a US drone strike in Baghdad on Friday.
Huge crowds of thousands of Iranians have packed the streets of the Iranian capital Tehran for the funeral of military commander Qasem Soleimani. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei led prayers and at one point was seen weeping. Iran has vowed “severe revenge” for the death of Soleimani and on Sunday pulled back from the 2015 nuclear accord. Soleimani, 62, headed Iran’s elite Quds Force, and was tasked with protecting and boosting Iran’s influence in the Middle East.
Almost 2,000 houses have been confirmed destroyed in Australia’s months-long bushfire crisis. After ferocious conditions last week, firefighters are using milder weather to boost containment lines around fires engulfing south-eastern Australia. At least 25 people and millions of animals have died since September. Australia is fighting an unprecedented bush fire season, fuelled by record temperatures and widespread drought.