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Tensions in the Middle East flared up when a US drone strike killed Iranian Quds Force Commander Qasem Soleimani on 3 January, prompting Iran to retaliate with a ballistic missile attack on US bases in Iraq, causing widespread fears of an open conflict. US troops have since failed to comply with Iraq’s request that they leave the country.

The European Parliament is holding a debate in Strasbourg on the situation in Iran and Iraq following recent escalation in the region.

The past two weeks brought about a new escalation of tensions in the Middle East. On 3 January, the United States conducted a strike that killed one of Iran’s top military commanders, Qasem Soleimani. Tehran responded by attacking two bases in Iraq where US military personnel are stationed.

In a parallel development, a Ukraine International Airlines plane crashed in the vicinity of Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport shortly after take-off. All 176 people on board were killed, including 57 Canadians. Iran admitted that the Ukrainian plane had been unintentionally shot down by the country’s military, which had mistaken it for a hostile target.

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