President Donald Trump ordered a U.S. military airstrike Thursday that killed Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s elite Quds Force, in an airstrike near Baghdad’s airport, the Pentagon said 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 Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization,” the Pentagon said in a statement.
The Pentagon said that Soleimani was “actively developing plans” to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq.
Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the leader of Kata’ib Hezbollah, known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), an Iraqi paramilitary group that attempted to storm the U.S. embassy in Baghdad on Dec. 31, 2019, was also reportedly killed in the drone strike. The Pentagon said in its statement that Soleimani directed the attack on the embassy.
Iraqi state television was first to announce that Soleimani and al-Muhandis had been killed in the strike.
A PMF spokesman attributed the drone strikes to American and Israeli forces.
“The American and Israeli enemy is responsible for killing the mujahideen Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and Qassem Soleimani,” said Ahmed al-Assadi, a spokesman for PMF, according to Reuters.
The Iranian government supports Kata’ib Hezollah.
Soleimani’s death is certain to escalate tensions in the Middle East. Soleimani’s Quds Force, which operate as a covert arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, have long provided support to terrorist groups throughout the Middle East, including Hezbelloh, Hamas, and radical militias.
The attack on the embassy was a response to U.S. military strikes two days earlier on Kata’ib strongholds two days earlier.
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said earlier Thursday that the U.S. military would carry out preemptive strikes if necessary against Kata’ib Hezbollah, which he said was planning further operations against U.S. forces in Iraq.
Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.