The powerful head of an elite Iranian military was killed in a U.S. airstrike on Thursday, according to Pentagon officials.
Qassem Soleimani, the Iranian Major-General in charge of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force, and Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, died on their convoy in Baghdad airport, Reuters reported. The U.S. Treasury designated the Quds Force a terrorist group in 2007.
Rockets Strike #Iraq's #BaghdadAirport, #USMilitary Choppers Spotted in Airspace. Three rockets landed on the edge of #Baghdad International Airport , causing explosions but no deaths or injuries, according to local reporters.#IraqiProtests pic.twitter.com/fdEFmkTxpq
— Ehab Al Obaidy (@Ehab8Alobaidy) January 2, 2020
“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.
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.
The words “Soleimani is our leader” were written under a window at the U.S. embassy after it was stormed by Iraqi militia members.
“Soleimani is our leader,” written under window by Iran-backed militiamen pic.twitter.com/o6CjW08VSi
— Lucas Tomlinson (@LucasFoxNews) January 2, 2020
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.
27 militia fighters were killed in U.S. strikes over the weekend.
Journalists on social media stressed the momentousness of killing Soleimani, with some saying his death was “bigger than taking out Bin Laden.”
Whoever did this just started a war.
— Rania Khalek (@RaniaKhalek) January 3, 2020
“Whoever did this just started a war,” tweeted Rania Khalek, a progressive journalist who writes often on the Israeli-Palestine conflict.
“I can’t understate how major this is. Not just a moment in US-Iran relations, but a major global event,” tweeted New York Magazine contributor Yashar Ali.
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
“People comparing this to killing Osama Bin Laden don’t know what they’re talking about. This is way more significant. Equivalent to another country killing US Vice-President.”
11. To call Qasem Soleimani just a terrorist is to understate his role significantly and that's where the danger lies in killing him without a plan for the reaction.
He ordered and directed billions of dollars to organizations that engaged in terrorism. He is/was an evil man
— Yashar Ali ? (@yashar) January 3, 2020
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.”
- Qassem Soleimani.: Screen grab