Washington/Tehran I Gen Qassem Soleimani, the head of the Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) elite Quds Force, was killed in a US attack ordered by said in a statement by the US Department of Defense.
“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 Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization.” Pentagon said
“General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region. General Soleimani and his Quds Force were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members and the wounding of thousands more. He had orchestrated attacks on coalition bases in Iraq over the last several months – including the attack on December 27th – culminating in the death and wounding of additional American and Iraqi personnel. General Soleimani also approved the attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad that took place this week.” Said the Pentagon in a statement.
“The strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans… The US will continue to take all necessary action to protect our people and our interests wherever they are around the world,” it added.
General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region. https://t.co/Me5DMvMgSp
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) January 3, 2020
Following the development, President Trump posted a picture of an American flag on his Twitter account, without any comment.
Iranian Foreign Minister called the US attack as a foolish escalation
In a statement issued on Friday, the IRGC said that Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of the Hashd Shaabi or the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), was also killed along with Soleimani in the strike that targeted their vehicle on the Baghdad International Airport road, the Tehran-based Press TV reported.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called the US attack as “extremely dangerous and a foolish escalation”.
The US' act of international terrorism, targeting & assassinating General Soleimani—THE most effective force fighting Daesh (ISIS), Al Nusrah, Al Qaeda et al—is extremely dangerous & a foolish escalation.
The US bears responsibility for all consequences of its rogue adventurism.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) January 3, 2020
“The US” act of international terrorism, targeting and assassinating General Soleimani, the most effective force fighting IS, Al Nusrah, Al Qaeda, is extremely dangerous and a foolish escalation.
“The US bears responsibility for all consequences of its rogue adventurism,” he said in a series of tweets.
Meanwhile, the PMF has also confirmed the incident, adding that its public relations director Mohammed Reza al-Jaberi and four other members were also killed after three Katyusha rockets struck a military base next to the Baghdad airport earlier on Friday.
It described the attack as a “cowardly US bombing”.
Tensions between Washington and Tehran
Friday”s targeted strike took place amid increased tensions between Washington and Tehran after hundreds of protesters stormed the US Embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday, where they managed to breach the main gate and enter some rooms, lighting fires.
The siege was in response to an American attack on the positions of some Iraqi militia battalions in western Iraq on December 29 in which, 25 of militiamen died and more than 50 were injured according to the PMF.
The Pentagon said at the time that it had launched “defensive attacks” against Kataib Hizbollah, which operates under the umbrella of the PMF and is allegedly responsible for launching projectiles and rockets at US interests on Iraqi soil.
Earlier on Thursday, Pentagon chief Mark Esper asked Iran to stop its attacks against the US in the Middle East and said “attacks against us will be met with responses in the time, manner, and place of our choosing”. (With IANS inputs)