The airstrike that killed Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani was carried out at the express direction of President Donald Trump, the Pentagon revealed late Thursday.
“At the direction of the President, the U.S. military has taken decisive defensive action to protect U.S. personnel abroad by killing Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization,” the Department of the Defense said in a statement.
I have never been more proud to be American and to have such a great president. There are no more fake red lines, don’t mess with the USA.
— RD (@real_defender) January 3, 2020
Trump himself, meanwhile, appeared to respond to the death of the elite Quds Force leader’s death by posting an image of an American flag to Twitter.
Also killed in the drone strike near Baghdad International Airport on Thursday was Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of the Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces.
Soleimani, who has been characterized as Iran’s “shadow commander” by international press, and al-Assadi’s deaths follow an attack on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad earlier this week.
A U.S. drone strike near Baghdad International Airport on Thursday came following a rocket attack that killed a U.S. defense contractor on Friday, Newsweek reported.
The U.S. attributed the rocket attack to Iran and responded on Sunday by targeting Kataib Hezbollah, an Iran-backed militia, according to Newsweek.
Trump has now killed Al-Baghdadi and Qasem Soleimani
Another promise kept to dismantle terror networks and take out their leadership
— John Cardillo (@johncardillo) January 3, 2020
27 militia fighters were killed in U.S. strikes over the weekend.
Journalists on social media stressed the momentousness of Soleimani, with some saying his death “bigger than taking out Bin Laden.”
Philip Klein, the Washington Examiner’s editor in chief, called the killing of Soleimani a “monumental event and great news for the United States and the countless victims of his strategy that has unleashed death and chaos throughout the Middle East.”
“Soleimani has been described as the architect of Iran’s malignant strategy to exert its influence from Tehran to the Mediterranean Sea, bolstering enemies of the U.S. and its allies,” Klein wrote in a opinion piece published shortly after the Quds leader’s death was reported.
“Under his leadership, in Iraq, the Iranian regime supplied roadside bombs to Sunni terrorists and used Shiite militias to carry out attacks on U.S. troops and, most recently, against the U.S. Embassy; in Syria, it has provided support for the brutal regime of Bashar Assad; in Lebanon, it has supported and advised the terrorist group Hezbollah; in Yemen, it has stirred civil war by supporting the radical Houthi movement.”