Gen Qassem Soleimani, the head of the Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) elite Quds Force, has been killed in US airstrikes in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, the IRGC confirmed on Friday.
In a statement, the IRGC said that Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of the Hashd Shaabi or the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), was also killed along with Soleimani in the strikes that targeted their vehicle on the Baghdad International Airport road.
“At the direction of the (US) President, the US military has taken decisive defensive action to protect US personnel abroad by killing Qassem Soleimani,” Efe news reported citing the statement as saying on Friday.
“The strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans… The US will continue to take all necessary action to protect our people and our interests wherever they are around the world,” it added.
Following the development, President Trump posted a picture of an American flag on his Twitter account, without any comment.
Since 1998, Maj Gen Soleimani led Iran’s Quds Force – the IRGC’s elite unit which handles clandestine operations abroad, said the BBC.
In that position Gen Soleimani played a key role bolstering Bashar al-Assad’s Iranian-supported government in the Syrian Civil War, and in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) group in Iraq.
He was a hugely significant figure in the Iranian regime. His Quds Force reported directly to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He first came to prominence in his country serving in the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s.