Iranian General Qassem Soleimani was killed Friday during an airstrike ordered by President Trump.
As leader of the IRGC’s elite Quds Force, Soleimani was held personally responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans and coalition members – including the death of an American contractor last week. Soleimani was said to be planning future attacks on American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.
“President Trump made… a serious decision which was necessary,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, describing Soleimani as the ‘primary motivator for an imminent attack.’ Pompeo says he hopes Iran will “take actions consistent with what normal nations do,” but warned the “entire United States government is prepared to respond appropriately.”
“President Trump deserves all the credit for acting swiftly, forcefully, and decisively,” added Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “Israel stands with the United States in its just struggle for peace, security, and self-defense.”
According to witnesses, the airstrike hit Soleimani shortly after he left the Baghdad International Airport in a convoy. Also killed in the attack was Iraqi paramilitary commander Abu Mahi al-Mohandes, leader of a group of militias loyal to Iran. Mohandes had been accused of organizing the attack on the US Embassy in Baghdad earlier this week.
Iran and Iraq have both vowed revenge for the airstrike, with Iraq’s Prime Minister calling a parliamentary session to decide whether to kick US troops out of the country.
“After this crime, we will deal with the American forces as an occupying force,” promised Iraqi lawmaker Naeem al-Aboudi, describing Friday’s airstrike as an ‘act of war.’
“For the blood of the martyr Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, the entire American military presence will be eliminated,” promised Qais al-Khazali, leader of the Iraqi militia Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia. “For the blood of the martyr Soleimani, Israel will be wiped out.”
Russia’s Foreign Ministry also condemned the attack, describing it as “fraught with consequences for regional peace and stability.”
The Pentagon will be sending 3,500 US troops to Kuwait in anticipation of revenge attacks, bringing the total number of American soldiers in the area to 80,000. The US has also urged all American citizens in Iraq to depart the country immediately.