US kills top Iranian general in air strike

US kills top Iranian general in air strike

The most powerful military commander in Iran, General Qasem Soleimani, has been killed in an airstrike, the Pentagon confirmed.

The incident took place in a strike ordered under President Donald Trump's command. It took place early on Friday morning at Baghdad airport and resulted in the deaths of local Iran-backed militias.

This is Fox News' report on the incident: 

Soleimani was head of Iran's elite Quds Force, which led Iranian military operations in the Middle East, as per the BBC, and his death signifies the increased hostility between Washington and Tehran.

After announcing three days of national mourning, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said "severe revenge awaits the criminals" responsible for the airstrike.

Soleimani is pictured below sitting beside Iraqi Shiite cleric, politician, and militia leader Muqtada al-Sadr.

Soleimani is pictured below sitting beside Iraqi Shiite cleric, politician, and militia leader Muqtada al-Sadr.  Credit: PA Images

According to a statement from the Pentagon, as per Reuters, Soleimani "was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region".

"This strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans," it added.

After news of the death was announced, President Trump tweeted an image of the American flag.

Soleimani's role led to the country strengthening Hezbollah in Lebanon and other pro-Iranian militant groups, as well as increasing its military presence in Iraq and Syria. He also helped to orchestrate Syria's offensive against rebel groups during the country's civil war, which has been raging since March 2011.

Iran's Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, dubbed the airstrike as an "act of international terrorism" on Twitter, adding that the US "bears responsibility for all consequences of its rogue adventurism."

President Hasan Rouhani said in a statement: "Iran and the other free nations of the region will take revenge for this gruesome crime from criminal America."

The death of Soleimani has "redoubled the determination of the nation of Iran and other free nations to stand against America's bullying," the state IRNA reported as per the Anadolu Agency.