Qasem Soleimani, a top Iranian military commander, has been killed by a US military strike at Baghdad International Airport on a direct order by President Donald Trump in what the Pentagon has described as a “decisive defensive action to protect US personnel abroad” and deter “future Iranian attack plans”.
CNN reports that until his assassination, Soleimani was the head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force unit. He was killed with Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis who was the deputy head of the Iran-backed Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF).
The Pentagon believes that Soleimani and his Quds Force were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members, and the wounding of thousands more. The Pentagon also blamed the Iranian general for orchestrating attacks on coalition bases in Iraq in recent months, including an attack on December 27 that culminated in the deaths of an American contractor and Iraqi personnel.
In a message published to his official website, the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed revenge for the killing, saying that “harsh revenge awaits the criminals” involved.
Khamenei warned the fight would continue, adding that it had been Soleimani’s wish for years to become a martyr.
“His pure blood was shed in the hands of the most depraved of human beings,” Khamenei said.
In a tweet, Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif described the US strike as an “act of international terrorism,” adding that it was an “extremely dangerous and foolish escalation. “The US bears responsibility for all consequences of its rogue adventurism,” he added.
Tensions as rising globally as a result of the deadly US strike, as analysts generally agree that Iran’s capacity for reprisals is unquestionable.
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