BAGHDAD: Iran’s top commander Qasem Soleimani was killed on Friday in a US strike on Baghdad’s national airport, Iran and the United States of America confirmed.
US President Donald Trump ordered Soleimani’s killing, said the Pentagon.
Following Soleimani’s death, Trump tweeted an image of the US flag without any further explanation.
In a feared proxy war between Iran and the US on Iraqi soil, pre-dawn developments mark the biggest escalation yet.
A volley of missiles hit the Baghdad’s international airport early Friday, hitting a convoy belonging to the Hashed al-Shaabi, an Iraqi paramilitary force with close ties to Iran.
Only a few hours later, the Revolutionary Guard Corps carried a statement saying “Soleimani was martyred this morning in an attack by America on Baghdad airport this morning.”
The Hashed confirmed that both Soleimani and its deputy chief Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis were killed in the US strike.
“The deputy head of the Hashed, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, and head of the Quds Force, Qasem Soleimani, were killed in a US strike that targeted their car on the Baghdad International Airport road,” it said.
The Hashed is a network of mostly-Shiite armed units, many of whom have close ties to Tehran but which have been officially incorporated into Iraq’s state security forces.