The United States killed Iran’s top general and the architect of Tehran’s proxy wars in the Middle East in an airstrike at Baghdad’s international airport Friday. The Defense Department said it killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force because he “was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.”
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.
It’s unclear what legal authority the U.S. relied on to carry out the attack. 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.
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 U.S. sanctions.
As the head of the Quds, or Jerusalem, Force of Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, Soleimani led all of its expeditionary forces and frequently shuttled between Iraq, Lebanon and Syria. Quds Force members have deployed into Syria’s long war to support President Bashar Assad, as well as into Iraq in the wake of the 2003 U.S. invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, a longtime foe of Tehran.
Many Iraqis also took to the streets to celebrate this incident, in the happiness of being free from his reign.
Iraq — Iraqis celebrate on the streets for freedom; thankful that qasim soleimani is no more.
Posted by Defend Bahrain on Friday, 3 January 2020
Soleimani’s killing follows the New Year’s Eve attack by Iran-backed militias on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. The two-day embassy attack, which ended Wednesday, had prompted Trump to order about 750 U.S. soldiers deployed to the Middle East.