Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani killed in U.S. airstrike

Acting on the direct orders of President Donald Trump, the United States killed Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani, head of the elite Quds Force and spearhead of Iran’s spreading military influence in the Middle East, on Friday in an air strike at Baghdad airport, the Pentagon and Iran have both said.

Top Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, an adviser to Soleimani, was also reported killed in the attack.

Local militia commander Abu Muntathar al-Hussaini told Reuters:

“Haj Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis were riding in one vehicle when it was struck by two successive guided missiles launched from an American helicopter while they were on their way from the arrivals hall on the road that leads out of Baghdad Airport.”

He said the second vehicle was carrying bodyguards from the PMF and was hit by one rocket.

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“At the direction of the President, the U.S. military has taken decisive defensive action to protect U.S. personnel abroad by killing Qassem Soleimani,” the Pentagon said in a statement.

“This strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans,” it added.

U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that Soleimani had been killed in a drone strike. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said he was killed in an attack by American helicopters.

Pictures showed burning debris on a road near the airport.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Soleimani’s assassination would strengthen resistance against the United States and Israel in the region and the world, Iranian state television reported

“The brutality and stupidity of American terrorist forces in assassinating Commander Soleimani ... will undoubtedly make the tree of resistance in the region and the world more prosperous,” Zarif said in a statement.

The funerals of Soleimani, a highly popular figure in Iran, and the others killed in the airstrike, are to take place tomorrow (Jan 4th).


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