US President Donald Trump has ordered an airstrike at Baghdad International Airport, killing Qasem Soleimani, a key Iranian military commander.
The US airstrike ordered by Trump at Baghdad International Airport killed Qasem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force unit.
According to the Pentagon, the attack was a “decisive defensive action to protect US personnel abroad” that was intended to deter “future Iranian attack plans.” It also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy head of the Iran-backed Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF).
The Pentagon attributes attacks on coalition bases in Iraq to Soleimani and his Quds Force.
A statement by the PMF indicated that the two “were martyred by an American strike.” The attack is expected to escalate regional tensions between Iran and the US and its allies in the region.
Three days of national mourning have been declared following Soleimani’s death. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed revenge for the killing, saying that “harsh revenge awaits the criminals” involved.
Khamenei said: “His pure blood was shed in the hands of the most depraved of human beings.”
Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif described the US airstrike in a tweet as an “act of international terrorism,” adding that it was an “extremely dangerous and foolish escalation. Zarif argued: “The US bears responsibility for all consequences of its rogue adventurism.”
Meanwhile, Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi said that he considered the assassination of Muhandis an “attack on the Iraqi state, government and people.”
Feisal Istrabadi, the founding director of the Indiana University Center for the Study of the Middle East, pointed out that since the strike happened on its soil, the Iraqi government would be considerably weakened.
Istrabadi said: “There will be an opportunity for the destabilization of the country. This is a huge deal throughout the Middle East. The fact that it was done over the territory of Iraq means that Iraq will become what I feared it would become from the beginning: the battleground between Iran and the United States.”