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Dirco ready to help South Africans in Iraq after Qasem Soleimani killed by US

International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor has called for calm after the US drone strike that killed Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani.

Protesters burn US flags as they shout slogans against the United States during a demonstration following a US airstrike that killed top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani in Iraq, in Islamabad on 3 January 2020. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - With growing security threats in the Middle East and fears of retaliation, the government said that it was ready to assist South Africans in Iraq.

International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor has called for calm after the US drone strike that killed Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani.

His assassination has escalated tensions in the region thrusting the US and Iran into uncharted waters.

Thousands of angry mourners thronged the streets of Iran's second city Mashhad yesterday to pay their respects to Soleimani chanting "Death to America".

International Relations' Lunga Ngqenge-Lele said that while the exact number of South Africans affected in Iraq was unknown, they were in contact with their counterparts in the Middle East.

“We always stand ready to assist all South Africans that are distressed overseas.”

MOURNERS PACK STREETS FOR SOLEMANI’S FUNERAL

Thousands of mourners have packed the streets of the Iranian capital Tehran for Solemani’s funeral.

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei led prayers this morning and at one point was seen weeping.

Iran has vowed "severe revenge" for the death of Soleimani and in a chilling development yesterday it pulled back from the 2015 nuclear accord.

Major General Hossein Dehghan - the military adviser to Iran's supreme leader - said Tehran's response to the US drone strike will be to hit back directly on American military sites.

"The response will be military and against military sites. Let me tell you one thing, we were never seeking war, it was America that was seeking war."

(Edited by Refilwe Pitjeng)