Iranian General Qassim Soleimani, head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite Quds Force, has reportedly been killed in what’s being called a game-changing attack ordered by President Donald Trump.
The Pentagon announced late Thursday that Soleimani, who had American blood on his hands, reportedly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of U.S troops, was killed in a U.S. drone strike at Baghdad International Airport. Also killed was Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of the Iran-backed militias known as the Popular Mobilization Forces.
Footage of one of the vehicles struck by strike killing Iran military leader Qasem Soleimani tonight in Baghdad. pic.twitter.com/jkwydjH2pq
— Israel Breaking (@IsraelBreaking) January 3, 2020
A statement from the Pentagon said the strike was “aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans.”
Soleimani was considered more dangerous than Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi or Osama bin Laden, and the release said that the Iranian general was “actively developing plans to attack” Americans.
“General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region. General 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 said.
“He had orchestrated attacks on coalition bases in Iraq over the last several months – including the attack on December 27th – culminating in the death and wounding of additional American and Iraqi personnel. General Soleimani also approved the attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad that took place this week,” the statement added.
US Pentagon Statement:
— Joyce Karam (@Joyce_Karam) January 3, 2020
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during an interview after the attack on the U.S. Embassy that militants were “directed to go to the embassy by Qassem Soleimani.”
Prior to Thursday night’s strike, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the U.S. expects further attacks and warned of preemptive strikes against Iranian-backed militias.
“There are some indications out there that they may be planning additional attacks,” Esper said. “If we get word of attacks, we will take preemptive action as well to protect American forces, protect American lives. The game has changed.”
#Iraq: Rockets fired at Baghdad airport. Iraqi state TV says top Iran commander Qasem Soleimani killed in #Baghdad attack: U.S. carried out strikes against two targets linked to Iran in Baghdad, U.S. officials tell @Reuters#Baghdadattack pic.twitter.com/XYhP6GTUoC
— Brijesh K N Tiwari (@brijeshkntiwari) January 3, 2020
Soleimani’s death exacerbated already-high tensions between Iran and the U.S., and Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned Friday a “harsh retaliation is waiting,” Fox News reported.
An adviser to Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani took to social media to warn the U.S.
“Trump through his gamble has dragged the U.S. into the most dangerous situation in the region,” Hessameddin Ashena said on Telegram. “Whoever put his foot beyond the red line should be ready to face its consequences.”
Iran Foreign Minister Javad Zarif took to Twitter to claim the general was “the most effective force fighting ISIS,” and to call the attack “extremely dangerous & a foolish escalation.”
“The US’ act of international terrorism, targeting & assassinating General Soleimani—THE most effective force fighting Daesh (ISIS), Al Nusrah, Al Qaeda et al—is extremely dangerous & a foolish escalation. The US bears responsibility for all consequences of its rogue adventurism,” Zarif tweeted.
The US’ act of international terrorism, targeting & assassinating General Soleimani—THE most effective force fighting Daesh (ISIS), Al Nusrah, Al Qaeda et al—is extremely dangerous & a foolish escalation.
The US bears responsibility for all consequences of its rogue adventurism.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) January 3, 2020
The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad released a statement urging Americans to “depart Iraq immediately.”
“Due to heightened tensions in Iraq and the region, the U.S. Embassy urges American citizens to heed the January 2020 Travel Advisory and depart Iraq immediately. U.S. citizens should depart via airline while possible, and failing that, to other countries via land,” the statement said.
تنبيه أمني – سفارة الولايات المتحدة في بغداد، العراق، 3 كانون الثاني 2020
Security Alert – U.S. Embassy Baghdad, Iraq, January 3, 2020https://t.co/3Cd1N4x6b9
— U.S. Embassy Baghdad (@USEmbBaghdad) January 3, 2020
The only response thus far from President Trump following the attack was a cryptic tweet:
To be clear, Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism and Soleimani was a principle player — Iran has been interfering in affairs in neighboring Iraqi for years.
The State Department announced earlier this year that it was going to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, to include the Quds Force, as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., tweeted that Soleimani was “an active enemy combatant, more dangerous than evil men such as Bin Laden & Baghdadi [and] who operated without regard for the law of war.”
FICTION: Trump ordered the assasination of a foreign “General” and as a result has placed us on the brink of war.
FACT: Soleimani was an active enemy combatant, more dangerous than evil men such as Bin Laden & Baghdadi & who operated without regard for the law of war
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) January 3, 2020
With the left up in arms over the attack, Rubio also dispelled the myth that Trump had no authority to order military action, citing both the Constitution and the War Powers Act.
FICTION:Trump has no authority to order military action against Iranian proxies & IRGC elements without congressional approval
FACT: President has a duty to defend against (& if possible prevent)attacks against our Armed Forces under both the Constitution & War Powers Resolution
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) January 3, 2020
The incident at the U.S. Embassy came in response to a U.S. airstrike on Sunday that killed 25 fighters of Kataib Hezbollah, an Iran-backed militia in Iraq — the attack was retaliation for the killing of a U.S. contractor at an Iraqi military base.
The Washington Free Beacon’s Matthew Continetti described Soleimani’s death as “a stunning blow to international terrorism and a reassertion of American might.”
Continetti also detailed a series of antagonizing actions by Iran, culminating with the death of the U.S. contractor – he also noted the restraint from President Trump.
“Last June, Iran’s fingerprints were all over two oil tankers that exploded in the Persian Gulf. Trump tightened the screws. Iran downed a U.S. drone. Trump called off a military strike at the last minute and responded indirectly, with more sanctions, cyber attacks, and additional troop deployments to the region. Last September a drone fleet launched by Iranian proxies in Yemen devastated the Aramco oil facility in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia. Trump responded as he had to previous incidents: nonviolently.
“Iran slowly brought the region to a boil. First it hit boats, then drones, then the key infrastructure of a critical ally. On December 27 it went further. Members of the Kataib Hezbollah militia launched rockets at a U.S. installation near Kirkuk, Iraq. Four U.S. soldiers were wounded. An American contractor was killed.”
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