Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay defended Prime Minister Boris Johnson against allegations of being “absent” during the Middle East crisis.

Iran struck back at the United States for killing a top Revolutionary Guard commander, firing ballistic missiles at two military bases in Iraq that house American troops.

Speaking on the actions of the Prime Minister, Mr Barclay said: “The Prime Minister has been engaging, he has been speaking on a regular basis with world leaders, he is continuing to do that today, as are my colleagues across Government.”

On whether Britain would join America if President Donald Trump looks to retaliate, he added: “I’m not getting into speculation about the next steps.” 

READ MORE: Iran launches missiles at US bases in Iraq 

HeraldScotland: US bases in Iraq hit by missiles as Iran strikes back after killing of generalUS bases in Iraq hit by missiles as Iran strikes back after killing of general

Boris Johnson will face MPs in the Commons later for his first Prime Minister’s Questions since the general election, following criticism from Labour about his lack of public comments on the crisis.

The PM came under fire for his failure to address the Commons on the Iran situation on Tuesday, with Jeremy Corbyn accusing him of “hiding behind” Defence Secretary Ben Wallace.

In a Sky News interview, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn criticised Boris Johnson for failing to address MPs and added: “He is the prime minister of this country, he has to be held to account for what his government says and does; he has to be held to account for his own actions by coming to our parliament to answer questions.”

HeraldScotland: British forces in the Middle East (PA Graphics)British forces in the Middle East (PA Graphics)

Jeremy Corbyn also condemned Gen Soleimani’s killing in an interview with Sky News.

He said: “To assassinate an official of a foreign government in a third country, in this case Iraq, is illegal under any law and the US, if it wants the world to stand by international law, must stand by international law itself.

“This is a provocative act which has made the whole world a much more dangerous place.”

Mr Corbyn was repeatedly asked whether he would label the targeted general as a terrorist. He replied: “Soleimani is the head of special forces of Iran – they obviously operate in all kinds of places that you and I would not agree with or want.

READ MORE: Donald Trump knows war with Iran will hamper re-election odds 

“That is not the point. The point is it’s an illegal act that took place and if we want to end illegal acts by anybody; you don’t commit them yourself.”

The UK has urged Iran not to carry out further “reckless and dangerous” attacks after Tehran fired missiles at military bases in Iraq hosting British and US troops.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab urged Iran to pursue “urgent de-escalation” as the crisis in the Gulf intensified.

Mr Raab said a war in the Middle East would only benefit the so-called Islamic State – also known as Daesh – and urged Iran not to respond further.

He said: “We condemn this attack on Iraqi military bases hosting coalition – including British – forces.

HeraldScotland:

“We are concerned by reports of casualties and use of ballistic missiles.

“We urge Iran not to repeat these reckless and dangerous attacks, and instead to pursue urgent de-escalation.

“A war in the Middle East would only benefit Daesh and other terrorist groups.”

The Government has already announced that the Type 45 destroyer HMS Defender and the Type 23 frigate HMS Montrose are to resume duties escorting shipping through the Strait of Hormuz.

The Guardian reported that “several hundred” troops had been put on standby of 48 hours for deployment in or near Iraq, who could be used to evacuate forces if the security situation in the country worsens.

US officials said 15 missiles were fired last night, with 10 striking the Ain al-Asad base 100 miles west of Baghdad, one striking a base in Irbil in northern Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region, and another four missing their targets.

American authorities said casualties were “few, if any”, while the Ministry of Defence said there were no British casualties.

Labour leadership hopeful Jess Phillips tweeted: “Iran’s retaliatory strike against US bases in Iraq, including those hosting British personnel, risks a downward spiral in which there will be no winners, only losers.

“Comments from senior figures in Iran suggest that this might be the end of this particular exchange and a window of opportunity now exists to try and bring both sides to the table before the situation worsens.

“This is a time for cool heads and for the international community to strain every sinew to de-escalate this situation.

“For families with their loved ones on deployment with our Armed Forces and for many with family in Iran, including my own, this will be a worrying time and my heart goes out to them.”

Three Britons have died after a Ukrainian passenger plane crashed moments after take off from Iran, officials in Kyiv have confirmed.

All 180 people on board the Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737 flight from Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran to Kyiv were killed on Wednesday morning.

Iranian state television said the crash was because of mechanical issues.

It is not known if the incident is related to the ongoing tensions in the area.