Iran’s Gen Soleimani killed in US Baghdad airstrike Khamenei says ‘harsh retaliation is waiting,’ Iraqis ‘dancing in the streets’ after Soleimani death: Pompeo

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Baghdad

Iran’s top security and intelligence commander was killed early Friday in a drone strike at Baghdad International Airport that was authorized by President Trump, American officials said.
The commander, Maj. Gen. Qassem Suleimani, who led the powerful Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, was killed along with several officials from Iraqi militias backed by Tehran when an American MQ-9 Reaper drone fired missiles into a convoy that was leaving the airport. General Suleimani was the architect of nearly every significant operation by Iranian intelligence and military forces over the past two decades, and his death was a staggering blow for Iran at a time of sweeping geopolitical conflict.
The targeted killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, could draw forceful Iranian retaliation against American interests in the region and spiral into a far larger conflict between the US and Iran, endangering US troops in Iraq, Syria and beyond.
Iranian State TV channel Iran Press broadcasts images showing burnt cars purportedly at the site of a US strike which killed Revolutionary Guards commander Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad.
The Defense Department said it killed Soleimani because he “was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.” It also accused Soleimani of approving the attacks on the US Embassy in Baghdad earlier this week.
In response to the attack, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned that a “harsh retaliation is waiting” for the US after the airstrike, calling Soleimani the “international face of resistance.” Khamenei declared three days of public mourning for the general’s death. Iran also summoned the Swiss charges d’affaires, who represents US interests in Tehran, to protest the killing.
An adviser to Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani quickly warned US President Donald Trump of retaliation from Tehran. “Trump through his gamble has dragged the US into the most dangerous situation in the region,” Hessameddin Ashena wrote on the social media app Telegram. “Whoever put his foot beyond the red line should be ready to face its consequences.”
The airport strike also killed Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, deputy commander of Iran-backed militias in Iraq known as the Popular Mobilization Forces, and five others, including the PMF’s airport protocol officer, Mohammed Reda, Iraqi officials said. Soleimani was the target of Friday’s US attack, which was conducted by an armed American drone, according to a US official. His vehicle was struck on an access road near the Baghdad airport.
A senior Iraqi security official said the airstrike took place near the cargo area after Soleimani left his plane to be greeted by Al-Muhandis and others. The official said the plane had arrived from either Lebanon or Syria.
Two officials from the PMF said Suleimani’s body was torn to pieces in the attack, while they did not find the body of Al-Muhandis. A senior politician said Soleimani’s body was identified by the ring he wore.
Democratic Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal said Trump owes a full explanation to Congress and the American people. “The present authorizations for use of military force in no way cover starting a possible new war. This step could bring the most consequential military confrontation in decades,” Blumenthal said.
But Trump allies were quick to praise the action. “To the Iranian government: if you want more, you will get more,” tweeted South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham.
A For Iran, the killing represents more than just the loss of a battlefield commander, but also a cultural icon who represented national pride and resilience while facing US sanctions. As the head of the Quds, or Jersualem, Force of Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, Soleimani led all of its expeditionary forces and frequently shuttled between Iraq, Lebanon and Syria.

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