- The Pentagon on Thursday said that the US military, acting on the orders of President Donald Trump, had killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
- Soleimani was reportedly killed in an airstrike. The US held him responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American troops and a recent rocket attack that killed a US contractor.
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The Department of Defence on Thursday evening said that the US military, acting on the orders of President Donald Trump, killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
The news came amid a swirl of reports that the powerful Iranian commander had been killed in an airstrike.
“The US military has taken decisive defensive action to protect US personnel abroad by killing Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force,” the Pentagon said in a statement, using a different spelling of his name.
The Pentagon said Soleimani was planning attacks on US diplomats and service members in Iraq and elsewhere, adding that the hawkish commander and his forces were responsible for “the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members and the wounding of thousands more.”
While designating Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, including the Quds Force, as a terrorist organisation last April, the US State Department blamed Iranian forces for the deaths of “at least 603 American service members in Iraq since 2003,” adding that “this accounts for 17% of all deaths of US personnel in Iraq from 2003 to 2011.”
Thursday’s Defence Department statement further held Soleimani responsible for attacks on coalition bases in Iraq in recent months, including the December 27 rocket attack on a local base that killed a US civilian contractor and wounded US service members. The general was also blamed for orchestrating the attacks on the US Embassy in Baghdad.
In a tweet following the attack on the embassy this week, Trump said Iran would “pay a very BIG PRICE.” He further described his statement as a threat, not a warning.
“This strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans,” the Pentagon said Thursday. “The United States will continue to take all necessary action to protect our people and our interests wherever they are around the world.”
Earlier in the day, Secretary of Defence Mark Esper spoke with reporters about the situation in Iraq and tensions with Iran, saying: “If we get word of attacks or some type of indication, we will take preemptive action … The game has changed. We’re prepared to do what is necessary.”
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