The United States, on President Trump's orders, killed Iran's top general, Qassem Soleimani, in an airstrike at Baghdad's international airport early Friday, a major move as U.S.-Iran tensions continue to escalate rapidly.
Soleimani, the head of Iran's elite Quds Force — a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization — and architect of Tehran's proxy wars in the Middle East, was an iconic figure in his nation and longtime enemy of the U.S.
The Pentagon confirmed the attack in a statement:
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.
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.
This strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans. The United States will continue to take all necessary action to protect our people and our interests wherever they are around the world.
Soleimani's killing follows a two-day attack by Iran-backed militias on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, which prompted Trump to order about 750 U.S. soldiers deployed to the Middle East. On Tuesday Trump had vowed that Iran would pay a "very BIG PRICE" for the attacks.
Shortly before the strike was announced, the president tweeted an image of an American flag, with no commentary:
Friday morning Trump published a pair of tweets justifying the strike:
Another Friday tweet by the president poked at Iran for never losing negotiations, but never winning wars:
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- Iran vows "severe revenge" against U.S. for killing of top general
- Trump: Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani "has killed or badly wounded thousands of Americans . . . He should have been taken out many years ago!"
- In addition to Gen. Soleimani, U.S. strike killed another general, colonel, major, and captain in Revolutionary Guard: Iran state TV
- Pompeo: Killing Iranian general saved "dozens, if not hundreds" of U.S. lives from "imminent" attacks
- State Department tells U.S. citizens to leave Iraq immediately
- Israel prepares for possible Iranian retaliation after U.S. strike
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- 2020 Democrats slam Trump for killing Iran's top general
- Biden releases attack ad in wake of Iran strike calling Trump "erratic, unstable, dangerously incompetent"