tv CNN Newsroom Live CNN January 4, 2020 2:00am-3:00am PST
>> last night at my direction, the united states military executed a flaws strike that terminated the terrorist ringleader responsible for gravely wounding and murdering thousands of and thousands of people and hundreds and hundreds at least of americans he was planning a very major attack and we got him. >> well, in tehran, burning of the u.s. flags and chants of death to america tell of the outrage there over soleimani's death. iran is promising it will strike back. >> they're really a harsh event.
iran will act based on its own choosing and the time, the place, and really decided then. we shouldn't expect anything as a result of this aggression. >> well shgswell, jomana karads bag day. in beirut, nick peyton welsh with the look at the potential response from iran. what will they were planning as far as the u.s. was concerned and what could be next. oren liebermann along the israel/lebanon border. and matthew chance is in moscow, where russia believes it has
certain release is called the killing a short sighting. let's begin in the iraqi capital where soleimani has been killed and thousands have been killed these streets. it's been an interesting morning. certainly, these are supporters of soleimani and those who were killed in the u.s. strikes as we've been pointing out, not a character who was revered by people across the country. what's the likely fallout, though, from what we saw friday and indeed as we consider these images in baghdad today. >> reporter: well, you know, becky, not as you mentioned, earlier, not everyone here is a supporter of qassim soleimani, so many here were opposed his influence, his country's influence when it comes to the
iraqi political scene and the affairs. at the same time there was so much anger here with how this played out, this, what so many see as disrespect by the united states tos iraqi allies by carrying out its attack by bringing iraq into the midst of this confrontation between the united states and iran, you know, we're seeing these scenes of anger playing out on the streets of baghdad today, as you mentioned, over the past few hours, these crowds are growing in size. huge crowds for this funeral procession for the ten individuals who were killed in the u.s. strike. of course, that includes soleimani and abu al muhandis. one of the top. the crowds include the iraqi prime minister, but the majority
on the streets are supporters of qassim soleimani and al muhandis. young leaders see them as commanders, the two who led the battles on the front lines, who credit them with that victory against isis. you know, you're seeing really emotional scenes playing out on the industries, so emotional, crying and then user got that anger, the chants, death to america and death to israel, those who are vowing, promising to retaliate to this strike. becky. >> what does the iraqi government do next? >> reporter: they're in a very difficult position right now, becky, as you can imagine. this is very much a caretaker of
government. this is a very weak government, dealing with anti-government protests takes place for months. then you have this anger amongst the iranian backed shia militias who in the recent weeks have been pushing the government to try to get u.s. forces out of the country. this is how we saw that standoff at the us embassy in the past week pretty much come to an end after the iranian-backed supporters were promised that the iraqi government, the iraqi parliament would work on some legislation and the president's forces. there's a lot of political leadership right now to stand up to the united states. and to try to reassess its relationship with the u.s. p politically. the presence of forces here. the security with the united
states. and there's a parliament session scheduled to take place tomorrow. we'll have to wait to see if that does happen and that is expected to be where we'll see politicians debate something sort of possible legislation. or what the next moves will be by the iraqi government. but a very difficult position that the prime minister and the political leadership finds itself in, right now, between the united states and iran. >> yeah, you made a very, very good point, okay. we'll watch this space as the sort of story here. junk, jomana. one of the latest reactions coming from outside this region. middle east, the uk, the latest country now advising against all travel to iraq, except for the kurdistan region. cnn's international diplomatic editor is standing by in riyadh
with international reaction. nic, the u.s. is nothing, over the past couple of years, this fractured theater, as it were, has been made more complicated lately, by a u.s. partner now seen by so many as unreliable. where do we see support for this u.s. action against soleimani, iran's chief military officer, friday? and what do played in this region and beyond hope will happen next? >> reporter: yeah, look, unreliable and unpredictable is the way president trump is perceived in the region. the saad dislike him because he's anti-iran. and that suits them. they see iran as trying to expand their influence around the region. they saw qassim soleimani as the
spearhead, and pushing attacks, including here in riyadh, including the proxies in yemen, the houthis, firing iran-made missiles landing very close to this capital. no one was killed. so there's no lack of understanding here, if you will, about what iran has been doing, how it's been trying to achieve it. and the fact that the united states has stood up and sided by saudi arabia and others in the region in that view. the concern has come they don't feel, sometimes, that president trump always has the nuance to make the best decisions. and then that even deeper concern is, sometimes, he acts without telling his allies. he appears to react quite spontaneously and telling the troops and not calling some back and putting some back in. it's that unreliable
unpredictable nature that has people concerned. the saudis here are still bit united states, and i don't think that's going to change. but they recognize that puts them, in you know, in the cross hairs. they were targeted by iran, in a complex attack at two oil facilities just isn't of the past 235few months. what they want to see, this is what they're saying, they don't want to see an escalation in the region. so they're urging caution and it's come from european leaders who have become estranged from the u.s. over the past years over president trump's sanctions and pulling out of the multinational nuclear deal with iran. so, the united states, in some ways, isolated from european allies who disagree with the tactics. and with allies in the region here. they're worried about what happens next.
>> nic is in riyadh for you. cnn's nick paton walsh is live in lebanon, home to hezbollah iranian proxy that has worked in close collaboration with qassim soleimani. nick paton walsh, what's the perspective there? >> reporter: certainly, if you listen to some officials they suggest that soleimani has met by top head bowl hezbollah offi hezbollah has denied things like that. but you have to look at precisely what the associations with the u.s. officials are, that qassim soleimani was prepare something kind of imminent attack. now, they haven't given great detail. they haven't suggested how far the attacks are. they have said they focused on iraq and facilities.
syria facilities, iran both in lebanon, really just diplomatic facilities, and really only one embassy here in beirut. that gives you some indication about what they may have been concerned about. what else potentially could iran do in retaliation. well, a western intelligence official said to me, we should be looking past increased funding towards iran's proxies. that might disperse the threat across the region and made it harder for the u.s. and adversaries to quell the in effect. and also cyberthreats, both on the state and nonstate level. there are many other ways in which iran will seek to ensure that its retaliation is entirely unexpected. they're the masters of the incremental move that nobody really saw coming to some agree. to some expectation with the u.s. highly unlikely because the
u.s. is going to respond to that. here in lebanon, certainly, i think, the tensions are higher because of the possibility of the hezbollah, iranian-backed group here who also have a pretty heavy political hand could potentially make good on their threats. with a rocket here to the south here. that could trigger what many have seen potentially brewing for well over a decade. another conflict between israel and its enemies here in lebanon that could be out lettutterly devastating according to the rhetoric on both sides. i'm sure that both sides want to enjoy that. and given that political quagmires that they're facing at the moment. but we may also see things that are entirely not from this region. many accuse iran of having proxies. having loyal agents, possibly, in the guise of hezbollah's world. in other parts of the world,
south america, and even parts of europe, too, there have been plots conducted over the past decades there as well. very likely, what we're seeing coming out of iran may not be in the immediate period in the honoring of soleimani and the lengthy processions in iran, a lot of choreography there, it may be in the weeks ahead, potentially when donald trump's notoriously not long attention span has moved on to something else and perhaps the u.s. posture has relaxed slightly, they might seek to target u.s. assets but also to u.s. allies here and coming down as well. expect the unexpected, i would say. we certainly have to learn from the united states precisely what it was that they thought qassim soleimani was planning that his removal from the scene potentially would have him
impeded. remember if you're planning something, you don't necessarily have to be there for the execution. so a few questions to be answered from the u.s. about the use of intelligence to execute an attack like this, a game-changer, quite frankly, in the region, given their spotted history of being specific isn't the intelligence in past two decades, becky. >> nick paton walsh is beirut. we're fanned out around the region and the world. stay with us, there's much more fallout on the death of qassim soleimani, we're going to head to moscow for the reaction from a very important iranian ally there. plus, harsh revenge. more on how iran is intending to retaliate against its top military chief in iran. stay with us.
well, crowds packing baghdad and other cities for funeral processions in iraq for those killed in the u.s. strike on friday. among the dead, the top iranian commander qassim soleimani, and the u.s. responsible for the death. president donald trump said he ordered the strike to stop a war. but if iran's actions are any indication, well, it may well lead to one. certainly, that's the perspective of experts in the
region. the country's u.n. ambassador has promised harsh revenge for what he calls an act of war. well, since it threw its weight behind bashar al assad in syria alongside the iranians, russia has been building its influence in the middle east. and with that, the kremlin believes it is camping out sort of a mediation, while it has more leverage than it has had for years in this region. so, how do they see, what's reaction to what we've seen in iraq, and the death of iran's top military leader? what happens next? how might russia get involved. our bureau chief matthew chance standing by in moscow for you. what's your perspective, matthew? >> reporter: well, look, i mean, the russians are probably the best friend the iranians have on this national stage. they provide, you know, a lot of
diplomatic cover for iran. and the united nations security counsel, they often veto resolutions that are critical of the islamic republic. they've got an economic relationship which is relatively good and, of course, they supply weapons to iran as well, as well as fighting shoulder to shoulder with iranian, and iranian-backed forces in syria as they support their joint ally bashar al assad in the syrian war that's been unfolding there for the past several years. qassim soleimani is somebody who is well-known in russia. he's sum here a couple times to deal with issues like arms procurement, foreign policy, coordination on the ground between russian and iranian military personnel in syria. and so, it's entirely expected that the news that he'd been killed by the united states would be criticized by russia. and there have been some very sharp and critical comments issued by various departments of the russian administration, the russian foreign minister, saying russia's mood is fraught.
and the russia defense ministry saying the act was short-sighted and will bring consequences to the entire international security system. i mean, blah the russians are most concerned about is that this could launch a spiral of retaliation which draws the united states and iran into a direct confrontation, which could lead to the iranian government being toppled. regime change taking place. the russians have seen it take place in iraq, in libya, in other countries awell where they've been closely aligned to. you can city those regimes replaced by more western governments. they've seen it in other countries. they do not want to see that happen in iran. so there are temporary boos for the russians this has taken place, a spike in the oil price, that's an unexpected wind fall for russian coffers. but they have to be balanced with the long-term uncertainty that this creates, becky.
>> matthew is in russia with perspective from there. i want to get you to london. alina is the bureau chief. in tehran, the killing of qassim soleimani is an act of war. in washington, donald trump said his decision to green light a u.s. zron attadrone attack to ks military chief was to prevent a war. which is it? >> reporter: well, if you look at what the united states is trying to do, they are saying, the trump administration, that they want to restart negotiations with iran. negotiations not about the nuclear deal, but iran's regional role as well. and an american official said that in killing soleimani, the united states is speaking to iran in a language that the regime understands. and that's why the official said who was anonymous, that -- he
said, it is not expected that iran is going to launch large-scale retaliation. so, i think this is what the u.s. is thinking when it comes to saying it's not about stopping a war. it's about stopping a war. >> has hezbollah condemned soleimani's killing -- he says the americans will not be able to achieve their goals in the region by killing him, rather, all of soleimani's goals will be achieved, he said. is he right? >> he is right in the sense that despite the major role that soleimani had, ultimately, the actions of the irtc and the iranian state are not about one man alone. he's already been replaced by his deputy. the plans that he had matter
mi masterminded can be implemented. so so speaking that one man's death does not mean the end of the middle east. this is what hezbollah is hinting that this is going to be a minor loss for iran. the big picture remains iran is continuing to its goals. >> in the short term, lebanon should be one of the flash points should iran decide to respond aggressively. we can discuss momentarily whether you believe there will be a response quickly. but where do you see this going? do you see lebanon until playin this point? >> reporter: i personally do not think that lebanon right now is in any position that would be optimal for iran to activate as a way to exact revenge for soleimani's killing.
we have to remember that iran has faced such assassinations in the past of high-level officials dand not immediately retaliate. one of those is one of its own, assassinated in damascus a decade ago. at the time there was no retaliation despite many threats to do so. the same with the killing of his son in syria a few years ago. and i could go on with these examples. it's not necessarily the case that iran is going to retaliate immediately. so i'm not too worried about lebanon. i think to be very honest, iran did not see this coming. the taunting on twitter by the ayatollah khamenei of president trump saying you cannot do anything has come back to haunt the ayatollah. i don't think iran's force to
the u.s. can go that far. and i think iran is best now just taking a bit of time to calculate its next steps. because now president trump has proven that he is very unpredictable. and that even iran, you know, cannot kind of anticipate his next move. and that is something that is likely to cause a lot of nervousness in iran, at least. >> analysis with lina katib from london. thank you. our correspondents are fanned out across the region. with take you to tehran in iran. next as the breaking news coverage continues, the latest on how the country is reacting to the u.s. strike of their top commander. these images are of the funeral processions for qassim soleimani and those killed with him on friday. as these funerals are under way, how israel is reacting to the killing of iran's top general. stay with us.
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>> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. welcome back to our viewers in the united states and around the world, wherever you are watching, you are more than welcome. i'm becky anderson. and this is "cnn newsroom." and i want to catch up on our breaking news at this hour, throngs of people jamming the streets of the iraq capital for processions and funerals for victims of the u.s. strike on baghdad airport on friday. one of those victims, iran's top military commander, qasem soleimani, u.s. president donald trump said he directed the strike on the qods forces
general. and joining us from tehran, just because the iranian officials vow revenge, rami, does that mean we should expect a response anytime soon? >> reporter: no, not at all. it's not the first time that there is a battlefield proxy war between iran and as we say america. it's been several times before. based on experience in the past, we can expect it, anytime, but i mean, the officers here are not in rush, because they have decided what to do and they try to catch america by surprise. so, it's not a big deal for them. they will find a suitable time to take revenge.
as people in the streets express revenge, revenge, revenge. but i can tell you that the fallout as they call it here is a blessing in disguise, because this society is now is unify and all of the regions, because of the domestic problems are removed, as rain falls -- snow falls in iran, the pollutants from the skies. so this is a blessing in disguise. and the blood of his martyr, as they call it here, is removing of a division from a divided society. and is unifying the rival competitors here in domestic politics. so so far, so good. and it shows the purposes of the iranian officers and iranian people who had some problems last month together. >> right.
ramin, he was reviled in the u.s. where he is accused of having american soldiers' blood on his hands but as you point out, qasem soleimani revered by many in iran, the supreme leader himself, for years, referring to soleimani as a living martyr, why? >> reporter: because he is revered here among the middle class, second part of society even, because he, as a hero, fought the isis in the regions. and that is a main concern total middle class here. because unwanted consequences of this assassination may be resurgence and re-emergence, i mean, emerging of da'esh in iraq and syria again. so, he is hero, because he has fault with da'esh and now he's
among the secular society, let alone the conservatives and grassroots who are admiring him as a hero, adoring him as a martyr. becky. >> ramin is in tehran for you. cnn's oren liebermann also joining me. you are at the israel/lebanese border, a potential flash point in any iranian response, what chance at this point? >> reporter: at this point, that chance seems very low of reaction in the immediate future and perhaps even longer term. because of that, at least it seems at this point israel's security assessment is that there are no more additional restrictions or limitations on the syrian/cellebanese border. there are no tensions here. that being said, because of that situation, israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu cut short his trip to greece, a
state visit that was, and returned to the country. and the defense minister held a security assessment. everyone here is well aware that one of iran's options for responding is to target israel. it may not be the u.s.' most likely response the u.s. forces in iraq are much close and saudi arabia is a target. but israel, perhaps, one of the more tempting targets specially as the strongest ally in the region and to do that would be be difficult. iran's proxy in the area, hezbollah is the stronghold here where israel estimates it has an arsenal of more than 100 rockets and missiles that is it could train on israel. it could use proxies in syria and islamic jihad in gaz a wher there are options and mourning for qasem soleimani. iran has options if it chooses to go in this direction. as of now, israel doesn't believe iran will strike
imminently. many have been quiet at this point not to provoke iran or iran's proxies. the speculation now is did netanyahu know this strike was coming? he spoke with secretary of state this is a stormy region with very, very dramatic things happening in it. he also backed all of the u.s. actions up until now and said the u.s. has the right to defend itself. after the killing of soleimani, he also said just like israel, the u.s. has the right to defend itself. there is that speculation that netanyahu and perhaps others knew there was going to be a strike against soleimani at some point. for israel, soleimani was the public enemy number one, he was the guy behind the iran strategies, and aggression and around the region. it's quite often that netanyahu and other officials would name-check soleimani and threaten him in a way. in fact, a few months ago, they said he should be careful with his words and even more careful
with his actions. >> oreniebermann on the israeli/lebanese border. thank you. a distinguished fellow with expectees in the middle east. a former u.s. special envoy for israeli/palestinian negotiations joining me today in new york. i just want you to have a listen to what the u.s. secretary of state, had to say yesterday, in the wake of this u.s. drone strike which took out iran's military chief in iraq. have a listen. >> the world's a much safer place today. and i can assure you that americans in the region are much safer today after the zee mysde qasem soleimani. >> well you responded on twitter, famous last words, question mark. martin, what do you think the risks are for this region?
>> well, in particular, the idea that americans are going to be safer as a result of this attack is hard to believe, simply because americans are quite vulnerable across the region. especially our troops and our personnel in iraq. but very much elsewhere in the region and of course the world. where via hezbollah and other revolutionary guard capabilities, americans are fairly soft targets, not necessarily embassies. but since retaliation has been vowed by ayatollah, the ayatollah, i think that we have to assume that americans, particularly high-level officials like ambassadors and generals are now fair game. >> well, as it just settles and
the rhetoric quiets down, i understand your concern that americans could be, maybe, fair game in this region. when i say this region, i'm broadcasting from about due back de in the uae. and you make a very good point. i just wonder as the dust settles and this sort of auction sentence dissipates from this extremely harsh rhetoric we have heard from the iranians, whether you think there's also a chance that any response may be somewhat limited? or whether, indeed, you believe the iranians need to respond? they certainly made the americans look like an unreliable partner once again in this middle east region. >> i think unlike the way that the american decision seems to have been made, the iranians will act with a great deal of deliberation.
and calculation. i actually -- these may be my famous last words, but i don't think they've got to have an immediate response to this, when the israelis, it's stilted that the head of the hezbollah to the partner of soleimani some years ago, it took quite a bit of time before the iranians responded but they did respond, including with attacks around the world on israeli targets. so, i think they will wait and reap the dividend particularly in iraq, from the american action. because the greatest achievement for both -- for soleimani, his death would be something that he hadn't yet achieved in his life, which was to get u.s. troops out of iraq and syria. and now, iran stands to a good chance with the iraqi parliament
debating the american presence in iraq, that the assassination of soleimani actually may result in greater pressure on the americans to leave iraq. and since donald trump wants to do that anyway, that may be a huge strategic gain for iran because of the relationship with soleimani, the u.s. no longer has the presence of iraq and syria. >> we are at the beginning of a new year. the beginning of a new decade, crystal ball watching here. so you've been around in this region for an awfully long time. what does your experience tell you will happen next, this year and beyond? >> what my experience tells me, becky, is that it's the law of unintended consequences, particularly in the middle east, where everything is connected. and one big act, as this has
been, nothing of one of the most senior officials in the iranian hierarchy will have a range of unintended consequences that i fear will have a profundaloundl negative effect on the region. i can't tell you exactly where it's going to happen but i can tell you that iraq and syria that has assets and the strategics that i just outlined are the most likely places that we're going to see action. but we could also see american soft targets and the world now placed in jeopardy, particularly high-level officials. and the iranians have shown they have capabilities to hit back in ways that can hurt us. so, i think -- at a minimum, we can see that. but i fear for america's strategic position in the middle
east, as a result of the unintended but logical consequences of donald trump's action here. >> the times forecast by former ambassador martin indyk, a good friend of the show. martin, thank you very much. we are looking at live pictures in najaf in iraq. as we continue to monitor these images for the funeral processions and services for qasem soleimani, iran's top military chief who was killed alongside ten others in a u.s. drone attack in baghdad airport on friday. more on the fallout from that killing is just ahead. when you move homes, you move more than just yourself.
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let's get you back up to date on our breaking news. supporters of the iranian commander and others killed in a u.s. strike are gathering on the streets in iraq. thousands mourns the death of qasem soleimani in funeral processions across baghdad and in other iraqi cities. iran is vowing to respond to the killings, but it's not yet clear how or when u.s. defense officials tell cnn that thousands of additional troops will be deployed to the region. well, there's no doubt that his death will have ripple effects but in the middle east in particular. i was talking to martin indyk who has probably known more about this region more than any of us will ever know, with respect, he talked about the
more intended consequences off the back of this killing. i asked him what he thought might happen next. i saw you nodding as you listened to that conversation. >> well, let's go for the optimistic option. what you've had from the obama administration is an unreliable ally for those pro-american in the region, such as this nation, saudi arabia. and now, you've got an unpredictable one. and we've seen qatar moving very quickly sending in to go and see the foreign minister to try and de-escalate because there has been this growing sense across the gulf region that they have to try to come up with some local fixes ahead of very tough situations. so one of the results could be the breaking away of the total local influence on the region
and problems. may be fantasy but particularly in the smaller nations like the uae. and the other side, we were talking off the air, you've got the situation in which trump is comparing the death of kwgs soli to the killi killing of al bagh. they have tentacles that reach all over the world, and a false state, an oil situation disenfranchised at the least behind it. so the iranians have the options. what we're seeing all of us saying was this the right decision taken by trump from the american perspective. from the iranian perspective, they've regained control of the streets. >> which i think protests in iraq and beirut, iranian
influence in these sovereign states. what then does the removal of qasem soleimani from this theater, a man who has been described by many as the most senior operative in the middle east for years, if not a couple of decades, what does his removal mean? >> it means that the iranians will make good, i think, on their very vocal statements and will take revenge for this. but it is a dish that they will eat cold. and they will take their time. martin was making that point, ramin was making that point out of tehran. so you've got a completely -- you've now got a motivational energy coming from behind what the trump administration was right to point out has been a decades-long campaign of violent anti-americanism. >> this is a guy that had american soldiers' blood on his hands. >> this guy was a killer.
and his killing comes -- not at the end, but amid rising escalations and some would say unpunished escalations from the iranians most recently blamed by the uk and others for directly firing rockets from iranian territory on to saudi targets. there was no direct comeback after that. you've got niece repeated attacks on tanks and so on. this is a punishment attack on the u.s. that will be a counterattack. >> sam kiley is in the house as what can only be described as expert analysis. fantastic, thank you so much indeed. your support is important. we'll be back in a short break to baghdad where the killing of the commander has a massive procushiopr processi procession, not just there but in najaf as well.
soleimani was iran's top military commander, not all the iraqis welcomed his influence in their country. but many are angry at the u.s. for killing soleimani on iraqi soil. iran has vowed to avenge his death. u.s. officials claim soleimani was killed to prevent an imminent attack on americans. and this happening as we speak. supporters gathering to show their respect for soleimani and others killed in that drone attack friday in najaf. well, i'll leave you with these images. that wraps this hour of "cnn newsroom." i'm becky anderson in abu dhabi in. uae. in our coverage unfolding since the u.s. strike killed the iranian military commander continues. "cnn newsroom" with christi paul and martin savidge is just ahead. (janine) i used to be a little cranky.
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save $100 on your coolsculpting treatment. what are you doing back there, junior? since we're obviously lost, i'm rescheduling my xfinity customer service appointment. ah, relax. i got this. which gps are you using anyway? a little something called instinct. been using it for years. yeah, that's what i'm afraid of. he knows exactly where we're going. my whole body is a compass. oh boy... the my account app makes today's xfinity customer service simple, easy, awesome. not my thing.
well, iran is vowing harsh revenge against the united states. good morning. welcome to the u.s. and around the world. i'm christi paul. >> and i'm martin savidge in for victor blackwell. right now crowds are taking in the streets over a funeral procession. >> back here in the states, thousands of additional military troops are being deployed to that region, adding to more than 700 sent there early tellier th