Key Iranian military leader killed in airstrike at Baghdad airport; Pentagon takes responsibility

Key Iranian military leader killed in airstrike at Baghdad airport; Pentagon takes responsibility

An attack on the Baghdad International Airport has resulted in the death of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force General Qasem Solemani, and the United States has taken responsibility. The strike was first reported by Iraqi State TV on Friday. 

Previously, the BBC reported that Iraqi security sources had reported at least eight people killed in the airstrike; no responsibility for the airstrike has been confirmed.

US officials told Reuters news agency they had carried out strikes against targets linked to Iran but gave no further details.

As yet there has been no official confirmation of a death or a US attack.

The Popular Mobilisation Forces, an Iranian-backed Iraqi militia, told Reuters that Gen Soleimani and Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis had been killed.

As noted by the Washington Post, it is “not clear who carried out the strike, but the death of Solemani, the Iranian Quds Force commander, seems certain to send tensions soaring between the United States and Iran.”

As of this writing, neither Iran nor the United States have confirmed Solemani’s death.

This is a developing story. 

Friday, Jan 3, 2020 · 2:15:00 AM +00:00 · Jessica Sutherland

The New York Times is now reporting that Solemani, al-Muhandis, and PMF public relations leader Mohammed Ridha Jabri were killed in a second attack on two cars which followed the three-rocket attack on the Baghdad airport; the rocket attack, the Times reports, resulted in no injuries.

According to a general with the Iraqi Joint Command, General Suleimani and Mr. Ridha, the militia public relations official, arrived by plane at Baghdad International Airport from Syria.

Two cars stopped at the bottom of the airplane steps and picked them up. Mr. al-Muhandis was in one of the cars.

As the two cars left the airport, they were bombed, the general said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.

The strike was the second attack at the airport within hours.

Friday, Jan 3, 2020 · 2:33:32 AM +00:00 · Jessica Sutherland

The Wall Street Journal reports that the U.S. is being blamed for the attack.

The deaths were confirmed by Ahmed al-Assadi, spokesman for a political coalition with close ties to the militias that Mr. Soleimani and Mr. Mohandes led as well as other officials within the Popular Mobilization Forces.The PMF formally accused the U.S. of the attack.

Friday, Jan 3, 2020 · 2:58:27 AM +00:00 · Jessica Sutherland

CNN’s Anderson Cooper just read the Pentagon’s statement, taking full responsibility for the attack, and the death of Solemani.

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.

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 stake 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.

Just minutes before the Department of Defense released the above statement, Donald Trump, currently at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, sent the following wordless tweet:

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This story and headline has been updated to reflect confirmation of the United States’ involvement.

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