Iran threatens to retaliate after US killing of top commander
Qassem Suleimani died after airstrike in Baghdad ordered by Donald Trump
By Suzanne Lynch Washington Correspondent, The Irish Times
The Pentagon confirmed late on Thursday that President Donald Trump had ordered the strike on the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ elite Quds force.
The 62-year-old general, was regarded as the second most powerful figure in Iran after supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, commander of an Iranian-backed militant group in Iraq, was also killed in the targeted attacks on a convoy of vehicles in the vicinity of Iraq’s main airport.
Responding to the attack, Iraq’s prime minister said Washington had violated a deal for keeping US troops in his country. Israel put its army on high alert and US allies in Europe including Britain, France and Germany voiced concerns about an escalation in tensions.
Iran branded the attack as an “act of international terrorism,” and accused the US of “rogue adventurism.”
“The US’s act of international terrorism, targeting and assassinating General Suleimani – the most effective force fighting Daesh (ISIS), Al Nusrah, Al Qaeda et al – is extremely dangerous and a foolish escalation,” tweeted Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif. “The US bears responsibility for all consequences of its rogue adventurism.”
Iran’s supreme leader vowed “severe retaliation awaits murderers who have the blood of Suleimani and that of other martyrs on their wicked hands from last night’s incident”.
“General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region,” secretary of defence Mark Esper said in a statement, describing the attack as “defensive action to protect US personnel abroad”.
“This strike 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.”