President will deliver a statement on Iran at 11 a.m. ET, the White House ...

9 min ago Russia and Turkey call for "restraint" in US-Iran crisis

From CNN’s Gul Tuysuz and Mary Ilyushina

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attend the inauguration ceremony of a new gas pipeline in Istanbul, Turkey on Wednesday.Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attend the inauguration ceremony of a new gas pipeline in Istanbul, Turkey on Wednesday. Ozan Kose/AFP via Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a joint statement today, saying both countries are “deeply concerned” about the escalation of tensions in the region. 

Here's part of statement:

“We evaluate the U.S. air operation targeting ... Soleimani and his entourage in Baghdad on 3 January 2020 as an act undermining security and stability in the region ... In light of the ballistic missile attacks by Iran against coalition military bases in Iraq on 8 January 2020, we believe that exchange of attacks and use of force by any party do not contribute to finding solutions to the complex problems in the Middle East, but rather would lead to a new cycle of instability and would eventually damage everyone’s interests."

The statement added that both presidents have “always been against foreign interventions and unilateral military actions” and urged parties involved to “act in restraint.”

16 min ago House GOP leader on and Iran: "He's making us safer by the actions he's taking"

From CNN's Clare Foran 

Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

House GOP leadership spoke at their weekly press conference on escalating hostilities with Iran and the strike that took out Qasem Soleimani. They praised the President for his actions and saying that House Republicans are unified behind him.

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy would not say what he thinks the President should say when he addresses the nation on Iran this morning.

When asked if he would call on the President to retaliate, McCarthy said, “I will allow the President to speak to the nation. I’ll allow him to gather all the information. I think the President has handled this correctly all the way through. I trust his judgement and I know he’s making us safer by the actions he’s taking.”

When asked if Secretary of State Pompeo should testify publicly before Congress, McCarthy said, “I think at this moment in time the most important thing to do, let’s deal with the situation at hand. I think that’s more important, instead of taking Pompeo away from his job.”

19 min ago Senate leader says he talked to last night: "I'm grateful for his patience and prudence"

From CNN's Jeremy Herb

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he spoke to President last night after the Iran strikes, saying he emphasized the “capacity to exercise restraint.”

“I'm grateful for his patience and prudence as he and his cabinet deliberate how to respond appropriately to the latest Iranian provocation,” McConnell said.

He continued: “As a superpower, we have the capacity to exercise restraint and to respond at a time and place of our choosing, if need be. I believe the president wants to avoid conflict or needless loss of life, but he's rightly prepared to protect American lives and interests. And I hope Iran’s leaders do not miscalculate by questioning our collective will in launching further attacks.”

23 min ago Republican senator says wants to negotiate with Iran

From CNN's Jeff Zeleny and Ali Zaslav

President made a series of phone calls to lawmakers last night, including to Sen. James Inhofe, Republican from Oklahoma.

“This is going to open the door to negotiations with Iran,” Inhofe told reporters.

The President was in an upbeat mood, Inhofe said, and believes the limited strikes last night open the doors to broader negotiations.

He said he expected to strike this tone when he speaks at 11 a.m. ET.

27 min ago House Democrats still deciding on a path forward on War Powers resolution

From CNN's Manu Raju and Jeremy Herb

House Democrats are still deciding when they will move forward with a vote on a War Powers resolution to check the President on Iran, lawmakers said leaving this morning's caucus meeting.

The vote still could happen this week, but they're still hammering out technical details on the resolution and it could also slide to next week.

One of the issues they are working through is making sure the resolution is written so that the Senate will have to take it up, according to Rep. Dan Kildee.

Former Ambassador Wendy Sherman, who served in the State Department during the Obama administration, was present during today's caucus meeting to walk members through the key issues with the administration's response, according to Rep. David Cicilline. 

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41 min ago Democrats are discussing how to pin down the administration at Iran briefing today

From CNN's Manu Raju

Behind closed doors, House Democrats this morning discussed how to pin down administration officials at this afternoon’s Iran briefing, since most all-member briefings are generally devoid of information.

Among the issues they plan to press on, per sources, is why the administration contends it does not need an Authorization of Military Force now.

The administration has said it used the 2002 authorization for the war in Iraq as legal justification for the strike.

43 min ago US-Iran tensions are growing. Here's what led up to Soleimani's killing.

From CNN's Luke McGee

Some Iranians are calling for a harsh revenge.Some Iranians are calling for a harsh revenge. Photo: ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images

President 's decision to kill Qasem Soleimani has left the international community reeling.

As diplomatic crises go, this ticks a lot of boxes. The US killed an Iranian general in Iraq — a country where it has kept a constant military presence since the 2003 invasion to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

However bad relations between the US and Iran had become under , the killing of a military official by drone strike caught everyone, including America's closest allies, off guard.

Here's some background to all of this:

The weeks leading to Soleimani's death had been rocky in Iraq. "Since the start of October, there'd been a tense standoff between Iraqi protestors [and the Iraqi government], opposing the Iran-backed Iraqi establishment," says Chris Doyle, director of the Council for British-Arab Understanding, an independent think tank promoting conflict resolution, civil society and human rights in the Middle East. For months, thousands of Iraqi citizens have protested. They've rallied against government corruption and growing Iranian interference in Iraq's political establishment. Security forces have cracked down on protesters, killing hundreds and injuring thousands There was an attempt to storm the embassy: Days before ordered the drone strike which killed Soleimani, Hundreds of pro-Iranian protestors attempted to storm the US embassy in Baghdad, scaling the walls and forcing the gates of the compound. They were protesting US airstrikes on facilities in Iraq and Syria which the Pentagon claims were linked to pro-Iranian militias responsible for attacking US service personnel in Iraq.

Read up on more key points to understanding this crisis here.

48 min ago UN chief urges "maximum restraint"

From CNN's Richard Roth

The United Nations Secretary General António Guterres made another appeal for peace Wednesday, echoing a similar message he delivered on Monday.

That message: Stop escalation, exercise maximum restraint, restart dialogue, renew international cooperation.

The secretary general continues his active engagement with relevant actors, UN Spokesman for the Secretary-General Stéphane Dujarric said in a statement.

“It is our common duty to make every effort to avoid a war in the Gulf that the world cannot afford,” Dujarric said.

56 min ago GOP senator says retaliation for attack "is not necessary" — just hours after calling strikes "an act of war"

Sen. Lindsey Graham just tweeted that US retaliation for Iran's overnight missile strikes "is not necessary" right now, marking a dramatic shift in tone from his comments last night.

"In my view, retaliation for the sake of retaliation is not necessary at this time," Graham tweeted. "What is necessary is to lay out our strategic objectives regarding Iran in a simple and firm ."

Graham, one of President 's top Senate allies, last night called the attack an "act of war."

Here's what he said yesterday:

"The missiles were launched from Iran at targets inside of Iraq housing US military personnel. The President has all the authority he needs under Article II (of the Constitution) to respond, and how he responds is yet to be determined, but he has that authority to respond," Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who is considered hawkish on foreign policy, said on Fox News Tuesday night. "It was an act of war by a regime that for the last 40 years has been a cancer in

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