Gen. Qassim Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite Quds Force and one of the most powerful men in Iran, has been killed, along with other military officials, in a U.S. rocket attack on Baghdad International Airport, early on Jan. 3.
The Pentagon said, “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.”
“General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region,” it added, blaming him for the recent attacks on U.S. troops and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. “This strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans.”
President Trump ordered the attack to target the general as he descended to the tarmac. At least three rockets were fired, with seven officials in total killed. Among those killed was Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iran-backed militias known as the Popular Mobilization Forces, reported Fox News.
Al-Muhandis had arrived in a convoy to greet Soleimani, and the attack killed them all.
President Trump tweeted a simple image of the American flag a few hours after the attack.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2020
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had deemed Soleimani just as dangerous as Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who killed himself after being cornered by U.S. military in a raid on a compound in Syria.
The State Department announced last April that Iran was responsible for killing 608 U.S. troops during the Iraq War. Soleimani was the head of the Iranian and Iranian-backed forces carrying out those operations, killing American troops. According to the State Department, 17 percent of all deaths of U.S. personnel in Iraq from 2003 to 2011 were orchestrated by Soleimani, reports Fox News.
Soleimani had been placed on a travel ban by the United Nations Security Council in 2015. The Quds force has about 20,000 members, and their leader Soleimani has been killed, identified by the ring he wore.
The rocket attack came after a New Year’s Eve attack by Iran-backed militias on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, which prompted the president to order 750 U.S. military troops to the region.