US kills top Iranian commander Soleimani in air strike; Iraqi PM condemns killing

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Late Qassem Soleimani.

The United States killed Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani, head of the elite Quds Force and architect of Iran’s spreading military influence in the Middle East, in an air strike on Friday at Baghdad airport, the Pentagon and Iran said.

Top Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, an adviser to Soleimani, was also killed in the attack that was authorised by U.S. President Donald Trump.

Soleimani’s killing marks a dramatic escalation in the regional “shadow war” between Iran and the United States and its allies, principally Israel and Saudi Arabia, which could quickly ratchet up tit-for-tat attacks.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed harsh revenge.
Iran has been locked in a long conflict with the United States that escalated sharply last week with an attack on the U.S. embassy in Iraq by pro-Iranian militiamen following a U.S. air raid on the Kataib Hezbollah militia, founded by Muhandis.

“At the direction of the president, the U.S. military has taken decisive defensive action to protect U.S. personnel abroad by killing Qassem Soleimani,” the Pentagon said in a statement.
“This strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans,” it added.

U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that Soleimani had been killed in a drone strike. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said he was killed in an attack by American helicopters.

The US Embassy in Baghdad today, Friday urged all American citizens currently in Iraq to depart immediately following the killing of top Iranian commander General Qassem Soleimani.

“US citizens should depart via airline while possible, and failing that, to other countries via land,” the embassy said in a statement.

The development comes after a US airstrike killed Soleimani and other Iraqi commanders at Baghdad’s International airport on Friday, reported news agency AFP.
It may be noted that there was a sense of urgency in the statement issued by the US embassy in Baghdad.

“US citizens should depart via airline while possible, and failing that, to other countries via land, it said.
The killing of powerful Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani is all set to become another flashpoint between the Middle East nation and the US. The move is bound to escalate tensions as the US continues to back the move to kill Soleimani while Iran plots revenge.

Top Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, an adviser to Soleimani, was also killed in the attack, a militia spokesman said.
Iran has been locked in a long conflict with the United States that escalated sharply last week with an attack on the US embassy in Iraq by pro-Iranian militiamen following a US air raid on the Kataib Hezbollah militia, founded by Muhandis.

“At the direction of the President, the US military has taken decisive defensive action to protect US personnel abroad by killing Qassem Soleimani, the Pentagon said in a statement.

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi condemned on Friday the “assassination” of Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in a U.S. air strike in Baghdad.

The air strike on Baghdad airport is an act of aggression on Iraq and breach of its sovereignty that will lead to war in Iraq, the region, and the world, he said in a statement.

The strike also violated the conditions of U.S. military presence in Iraq and should be met with legislation that safeguards Iraq’s security and sovereignty, he added. He called on parliament to convene in an extraordinary session.

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