U.S. Drone Strike Kills Top Iranian General Qassem Suleimani In Baghdad

U.S. Drone Strike Kills Top Iranian General Qassem Suleimani In Baghdad
Credits: Steven nabil and Aldin Twitter page

Iran’s most powerful military commander, Gen Qasem Soleimani, has been killed by a US airstrike in Iraq. The 62-year-old spearheaded Iranian military operations in the Middle East as head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, the division of Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

Soleimani and officials from Iran-backed militias were leaving Baghdad airport in two cars when they were hit by a US drone strike near a cargo area. The commander had reportedly flown in from Lebanon or Syria. Several missiles struck the convoy and at least seven people are believed to have died.

He was killed at Baghdad airport, along with other Iran-backed militia figures, early on Friday in a strike ordered by US President Donald Trump.

“At the direction of the President, the U.S. military has taken decisive defensive action to protect U.S. personnel abroad by killing Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization,” a statement from the Pentagon said. “General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.”

Soleimani’s killing marks a major escalation in tensions between Washington and Tehran.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said “severe revenge awaits the criminals” behind the attack. He also announced three days of national mourning. Soleimani was widely seen as the second most powerful figure in Iran, behind the Ayatollah Khamenei.

President Trump, who was in Florida at the time of the strike, tweeted an image of the American flag shortly after the news broke.

Tweeting again on Friday, Mr Trump said Soleimani had “killed or badly wounded thousands of Americans… and was plotting to kill many more” and “should have been taken out many years ago”.

“While Iran will never be able to properly admit it, Soleimani was both hated and feared within the country,” he said.

There remain conflicting reports about whether a helicopter or a drone actually carried out the strikes. U.S. forces in Iraq have also reportedly sought to confirm Soleimani’s death directly, something that is an important part of the post-strike process for any targeted killing.

The strikes reportedly killed a number of other notable individuals in addition to Soleimani, including Abu Mahdi al Muhandis, Kata’ib Hezbollah leader and the Deputy Chairman of the Popular Mobilization Committee, the Iraqi government entity that oversees the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF).

The PMF’s top spokesperson and head of its protocol office, Mohammed Ridha, was also killed. There are unconfirmed reports that a senior member of the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah also died.

Iraqi authorities have denied reports that U.S. forces had arrested other important Iraqi militants who had taken part in the Embassy attack.

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