Qassem Soleimani, Commander of the Quds Force – a special forces unit of the Iranian military – was killed yesterday during a United States airstrike, after a missile targeted his convoy near Baghdad International Airport.
On December 29th 2019, the White House released a press briefing by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper confirming five airstrikes made in retaliation to a rocket attack in Kirkuk on December 27. Mark Esper said the five targets were locations associated with Kata’ib Hezbollah.
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper went on to state, “We will take additional actions as necessary to ensure that we act in our own self-defence and we deter further bad behaviour from militia groups or from Iran”. Two days later the American embassy in Baghdad was attacked by supporters of Kata’ib Hezbollah and other Shi’ite militia groups.
The Pentagon released a statement yesterday confirming the death of Qassem Soleimani. Notably, the statement begins by saying the decisive action taken to protect US personnel was at the direction of President Donald Trump. The statement then goes on to justify the attack by claiming General Qassem Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.
Tensions in the Middle East are escalating rapidly as the supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, made the following statement with regard to General Soleimani’s death, “With his departure and with God’s power, his work and path will not cease and severe revenge awaits those criminals who have tainted their filthy hands with his blood and the blood of the other martyrs of last night’s incident”.