Leader of Iran’s elite Quds Force killed in airstrike near Baghdad airport
The Pentagon has issued an official statement confirming that the attack on Qasem Soleimani was carried out in order to protect US citizens abroad
Quds commander Qassem Soleimani was killed at Baghdad International Airport by US military forces to protect American citizens overseas.
At least seven people were killed by rocket attacks at Baghdad International Airport, according to a report by the Shiite militant Popular Mobilization Force (PMF). According to Security Media Cell, three Katyusha missiles exploded at the airport.
On Thursday evening, the Pentagon issued an official statement confirming that the attack against Qasem Soleimani was directed by the President of the United States in order to protect Americans overseas..
“As directed by the President, the US military took decisive defensive action … killing Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Quds Force in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which is recognized as a terrorist organization in the United States,” the statement said..
The Pentagon reported that General Soleimani “was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and military personnel in Iraq and throughout the region.” In addition, Soleimani and the Quds forces under his control are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans and coalition troops. Soleimani has been behind attacks on coalition military bases in recent months, including an attack in Iraq on December 27 that killed US and Iraqi citizens..
Soleimani also endorsed the attacks on the US embassy in Baghdad this week, the Pentagon said in a statement. The bombing of Baghdad airport was intended to prevent further attacks from Iran.
A spokesman for the Iraqi People’s Mobilization Forces told Reuters that the shelling killed Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani, head of the elite Quds unit, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps special forces, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the commander of an Iraqi paramilitary group..
“American and Israeli enemies are responsible for the killing of the mujahideen Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and Qassem Soleimani,” Ahmed al-Assadi, a spokesman for the Iraqi People’s Mobilization Forces, told Reuters.
The PMF’s initial report referred to the deaths of five militants and two “important guests” who arrived at Baghdad airport. Two rockets hit the cars in which there were militants and their guests, whose names were not disclosed.
Earlier it became known that among the victims was the PMF’s director of public relations. Paramilitary group says he died in “cowardly American bombing”.
The rockets exploded near the airport’s cargo terminal, setting several vehicles on fire. Several people were injured.
Iran’s reaction was not long in coming.
The country’s top leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has warned that the United States will face “brutal retribution” after a US airstrike in Baghdad killed the commander of the elite Quds Force, General Qasem Soleimani.
Khamenei spoke on state television, calling Suleimani “international face of resistance”.
“God willing, with his departure his work and path will not stop, but cruel revenge awaits the criminals who stained their unworthy hands with his blood and the blood of other martyrs last night,” Khamenei said.
Ayatollah declared three days of mourning in memory of the general.
Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Friday called Soleimani’s assassination a dangerous escalation and warned that the United States would be held accountable for its actions..
“The act of international terrorism committed by the United States, the assassination of General Soleimani … is an extremely dangerous and stupid escalation,” Zarif tweeted..
“The United States is responsible for all the consequences of its unstoppable adventurism,” he added..
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s adviser Hesameddin Ashena also warned President Donald Trump of an impending retaliatory measure.
“Trump, with his risky move, has placed the United States in the most dangerous situation in the region,” he wrote on Telegram. “Those who cross the red line must be prepared for the consequences.”.
Iranian state television later called Trump’s order to assassinate Soleimani “the biggest blunder on the part of the United States” since World War II. “Residents of the region will no longer allow Americans to stay,” said in a TV program.
Meanwhile, in Tehran, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has confirmed that the commander of an elite Quds unit, Qasem Suleimani, was killed Friday by US forces in Baghdad..
According to a statement by the IRGC, which was read on state television, the “brilliant commander” died “a martyr’s death in an American attack at Baghdad airport” on Friday morning..
According to the TV channel, the attack was carried out by American helicopters.
Then a mourning ribbon appeared on the screen and a montage of photographs of smiling and praying Suleimani was shown..