'World War 3' trends on Twitter after Donald Trump’s US airstrike kills top Iran general
The phrase ‘World War 3’ began trending on Twitter after the US killed a top Iranian general in a US airstrike.
Iranian general Qasem Soleimani was killed in a bombing ordered by President Donald Trump overnight at Baghdad Airport.
Former Middle East minister Alistair Burt has said the US launching an airstrike which killed Iran's most powerful military commander is "extremely serious".
Mr Burt told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "There is no agreement as to a base of the confrontations in the region, there is a completely different narrative put forward by the Iranians for what is happening in the region to that which is put forward by the United States and others - there is no meeting between to two."
He added that the airstrike could cause "a huge potential escalation" of the conflict, of which "the consequences are unknown".
Mr Burt said that it is "very important now to concentrate on what happens next, and for everybody involved diplomatically to do everything they can to try and diffuse the situation".
He added: "It's extremely serious."
Asked whether the UK Government would have been told about the US government's airstrike plans before they happened, Mr Burt added: "I doubt it."
Mr Burt added that the risks and consequences facing UK military personnel based in the Middle East "are much greater this morning than they were before".
Asked whether UK troops based in the region are in danger, Mr Burt told the Today programme: "Well, personnel are in danger in the region anyway as we've seen in recent times, and any of the actions that have been taken in the region could have had a consequence of starting a direct confrontation, and therefore military personnel in the region could have been at risk.
"But there's no doubt that risks and consequences are much greater this morning than they were before, but they're unknown on all sides, but the United States would no doubt say that personnel was at risk already from action taken by the Iranians.
"The question is to what extent have any of those consequences been satisfactorily resolved by this action. And it would seem, at this stage, very unlikely that there's a positive answer to that."
Asked whether this airstrike was an unwise move by the United States, Mr Burt said it "takes the confrontation between the United States and Iran to a completely different level".
He said: "It is the killing of a very senior political as well as military commander."
Mr Burt added: "Any action where you cannot foresee immediate consequences, take steps to prevent the most difficult consequences, you know, puts the region on edge and makes life more difficult for everyone.
"It's very hard to see what the consequences will be. I'm quite sure the United States will have to come out with more justification for its actions - what has caused this.
"But I think everyone has got to have extremely cool heads this morning. This is a very grave escalation in the affairs of the region, the consequences are unknowable and I think words and comments have got to be extremely carefully handled today."