Iranian Commander Qassem Soleimani Among Those Killed in U.S. Airstrike

The airstrike occurred Thursday afternoon at Baghdad International Airport.


Image via Getty/Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP


U.S. forces carried out an airstrike that reportedly killed one Iran's most powerful figures, the Pentagon confirmed Thursday.

The air raids occurred near Baghdad's international airport, just days after Iranian-backed militias besieged the U.S. embassy in the Iraqi capital. Among those killed in the strike was Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani, who is considered the second-most powerful figure in Iran behind Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

"General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region," the Pentagon said in a statement published by The New York Times. "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."

The Defense Department also accused Soleimani of planning a number of attacks on U.S. facilities, including the U.S. embassy in Baghdad this week as well as the Dec. 27 rocket attack on an Iraqi military base that killed an American contractor and injured four U.S. troops. The American military retaliated Sunday by launching five airstrikes in Syria and Iraq, killing 24 people and injuring dozens. 

"[Thursday's] strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans," the DoD said in the statement. "The United States will continue to take all necessary action to protect our people and our interests wherever they are around the world."

The U.S. reportedly carried out the airstrike at the direction of Donald Trump, who is currently vacationing in Palm Beach. Shortly after the attack, POTUS tweeted the American flag without any comment.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2020

Iraqi officials say a total of seven people were killed in the airstrike, including Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis—the deputy commander of the Iran-backed umbrella paramilitary group Popular Mobilization Forces. 

News of the attack arrives just hours after Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced the U.S. would "take preemptive action to defend our personnel and our interests and our partners in the region."

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif condemned the airstrike, calling it an "act of international terrorism."

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

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei strongly condemned the attack and called for three days of mourning. 

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei says Qassim Soleimani's killing will double the motivation of resistance against US & Israel. Harsh revenge awaits 'criminals' who killed Qassim Soleimani
#BREAKING Iran's Khamenei declares three days of mourning for Soleimani

Shortly after the Pentagon's confirmation, oil prices increased by more than 4 percent. Per CNBC: "Brent crude was up 2.88% to $68.14 per barrel, while U.S. crude rose 2.70% to $62.82 per barrel." The surge was due to concerns about growing tensions in the Middle East and their effect on oil supply.

On Friday night, "WWIII" was trending on Twitter, with many convinced that retaliation was imminent. You can read some of the reactions to the attack below.

Trump's dangerous escalation brings us closer to another disastrous war in the Middle East that could cost countless lives and trillions more dollars.

Trump promised to end endless wars, but this action puts us on the path to another one.

— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) January 3, 2020
Soleimani was a murderer, responsible for the deaths of thousands, including hundreds of Americans. But this reckless move escalates the situation with Iran and increases the likelihood of more deaths and new Middle East conflict. Our priority must be to avoid another costly war.

The question isn’t whether Solemaini was a bad guy. The questions are:

1. What are the likely consequences of his assassination?

2. Do you trust the Trump administration to have planned for those consequences and to manage what comes next?

— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) January 3, 2020

Regardless of the long term strategic impact of tonight’s air strike, there will be a response from Iran and it will be ugly. The conflict between the US and Iran is now more dire than it has been since the hostages were released 40 years ago and there will be more blood spilled.

— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) January 3, 2020

Top Iranian General was killed in airstrike in Iraq. If we did this, we're probably going to war. Iran will retaliate & then we will be dragged into the most disastrous war of our lifetimes. Trump will then do exact opposite of what he said - start a gigantic war in Middle East.

— Cenk Uygur (@cenkuygur) January 3, 2020
I don’t want & have not pushed for war with #Iran

But when an adversary decides to use force to attack our Armed Forces @potus has an affirmative duty to defend against & if possible prevent such attacks.

It’s a blatant act of war you idiots. Imagine if the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was assassinated in an air strike

— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) January 3, 2020
Qassem Soleimani was a depraved terrorist who had the blood of hundreds of American servicemen and women on his hands, and who was doubtlessly planning operations to further harm our citizens and allies.

Imagine the Iranian government assassinated Mike Pompeo with a drone, at the direction of the president, and called it self defense.

That’s exactly what the US did by killing Soleimani — an act of war.

The only difference is Iran’s self defense claims would be more legitimate.

— Emma Vigeland (@EmmaVigeland) January 3, 2020

The airstrike that killed Iran's General Soleimani at the Baghdad Airport is a BIG deal.

Retaliation is certain.
American lives are at risk.

And the guy who bragged about being against the Iraq War is wagging the dog to dodge his own non-stop scandals.

— BrooklynDad_Defiant!☮️ (@mmpadellan) January 3, 2020

WARNING WARNING: If the US killed Solimani & Mohandes in an air strike then expect the US Embassy under full scale siege by the end of tomorrow’s end of prayers. Convoy was struck by precision missiles and multiple Iraqis and 2 Iranian “guests” killed.

— Malcolm Nance (@MalcolmNance) January 3, 2020
Soleimani was an enemy of the United States. That’s not a question.

The question is this - as reports suggest, did America just assassinate, without any congressional authorization, the second most powerful person in Iran, knowingly setting off a potential massive regional war?

To people joking about getting drafted for WWIII in the US:

Millions of innocent brown people will be murdered before you find bone spurs. Genocide is really hilarious, keep posting those gifs.

— Remi Kanazi (@Remroum) January 3, 2020
On the other hand, Donald Trump finds himself in a similar position as Bill Clinton, facing an impeachment and decided to get into a military conflict with Iraq. A perfect distraction from his challenges in the White House.

Some people online pointed out the similarities between the current situation and Clinton's presidency as he launched an airstrike in Iraq while he was nearing impeachment. 

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