The Pentagon has confirmed that commander of Iran's Quds Force has been killed in a United States air strike ordered by President Donald Trump and aimed at "deterring future Iranian attack plans".
Qasem Soleimani, the commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force unit, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy head of the Iran-backed Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), were among those killed in the attack at Baghdad International Airport on Friday, January 3rd the PMF said in a statement.
The Iraqi military said three rockets were fired at the airport, with the total number of people killed unclear. In a statement, the Pentagon said the US had taken "decisive defensive action to protect US personnel abroad" by killing Soleimani, who heads what the US describes as a foreign terrorist organization.
"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" the statement said.
In a statement, the PMF confirmed the pair "were martyred by an American strike."
According to the Pentagon, Soleimani was "actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region."
Soleimani and his Quds Force were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members, and the wounding of thousands more, the Pentagon added.
The Pentagon also blamed Soleimani for orchestrating attacks on coalition bases in Iraq in recent months, including an attack on December 27 that culminated in the deaths of additional American and Iraqi personnel.