Iran named Brigadier Esmail Ghaani as the new chief of Iran’s Quds Force after Qassem Soleimani was killed by a US airstrike in Baghdad on Friday. Ghaani was Soleimani’s deputy.
US President Donald Trump ordered the killing of Iran Revolutionary Guards commander Qassem Soleimani, who died in Baghdad “in a decisive defensive action to protect US personnel abroad,” the Pentagon said. The US had called the strikes in response to a rocket attack days earlier that had killed an American contractor working in Iraq.
“General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region. General 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 Department of Defence said.
The high-profile assassinations are likely to be a massive blow to Iran, which has been locked in a long conflict with the United States that escalated sharply last week with the storming of the US embassy in Iraq by pro-Iranian militiamen following a US air raid on the Kataib Hezbollah militia, founded by Muhandis.
Here are the top developments so far:
🔴 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is to cut short his trip to Greece following the killing of Iran Revolutionary Guards commander Qaseem Soleimani. Israel Army Radio reported that the country’s military had gone on heightened alert, fearing retaliation by Iran or its proxies after the killing of Soleimani by a US airstrike in Baghdad.
🔴 The US killed Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani, head of the elite Quds Force and spearhead of Iran’s spreading military influence in the Middle East, on Friday in an airstrike at Baghdad airport
🔴 Top Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, an adviser to Soleimani, was also killed in the attack
🔴 Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Friday the assassination of Iran Quds Force chief Qassem Soleimani was, “an extremely dangerous and foolish escalation.”
🔴The White House tweeted, “At the direction of the President, the US military has taken decisive defensive action to protect US personnel abroad by killing Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, a US-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization.”
🔴 Iranian Supreme Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the assassination of Quds Force chief Qassem Soleimani would double the motivation of the resistance against the United States and Israel. “With him gone, God willing, his work and his path will not be stopped, but severe revenge awaits the criminals who bloodied their foul hands with his blood and other martyrs’ in last night’s incident.
🔴 Trump tweets out a picture of the US flag without any explanation, as the pre-dawn developments marked the most major escalation yet in a feared proxy war between Iran and the US on Iraqi soil.
🔴 The Hashed confirmed both Soleimani and its deputy chief Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis were killed in what it said was a “US strike that targeted their car on the Baghdad International Airport road.” 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.
🔴 Formal funeral processions for militiamen killed in a U.S. airstrike on Baghdad airport will take place on Saturday, Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces umbrella grouping of militia groups said in a statement on Friday.
🔴 Former US Vice President Joe Biden”: “This is a hugely escalatory move in an already dangerous region… President Trump just tossed a stick of dynamite into a tinderbox, and he owes the American people an explanation of the strategy and plan to keep safe our troops and embassy personnel, our people and our interests, both here at home and abroad, and our partners throughout the region and beyond.”
🔴 U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: “Iraqis — Iraqis — dancing in the street for freedom; thankful that General Soleimani is no more.”
🔴 Populist Iraqi Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr mourned the killing of Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia leaders and said his militias were ready to defend Iraq. “As the patron of the patriotic Iraqi resistance I give the order for all mujahideen, especially the Mehdi Army, Promised Day Brigade, and all patriotic and disciplined groups to be ready to protect Iraq,” he said in a statement.
🔴 China has always opposed the use of force in international relations,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a daily press briefing. “We urge the relevant sides, especially the United States, to remain calm and exercise restraint to avoid further escalating tensions,” Geng said.
🔴 France’ Europe minister Amelie de Montchalin was quoted as saying by AFP: “We have woken up to a more dangerous world. In such operations, when we can see an escalation is underway, but what we want above all is stability and de-escalation.”
🔴 The US embassy in Baghdad urged American citizens in Iraq on Friday to “depart immediately”, for fear of fallout from a US strike that killed top Iranian and Iraqi commanders. “US citizens should depart via airline while possible, and failing that, to other countries via land,” the embassy said in a statement.
🔴 Following this, Iraq’s Oil Ministry said on Friday that some US citizens working in foreign oil companies in the city of Basra have started leaving, confirming an earlier Reuters report.
🔴 Following Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei’s announcement of a “harsh retaliation” to the airstrike, the US has started sending 750 soldiers to Baghdad to secure the US embassy in the country, according to Spectator Index.
🔴 Noting the increase in tension across the world following the killing of Soleimani, India said peace and security in the region are of utmost importance to India. “We’ve noted that a senior Iranian leader has been killed by US. Increase in tension has alarmed the world. Peace and security in this region is of utmost importance to India. It’s vital that the situation doesn’t escalate. India has consistently advocated restraint and continues to do so,” India’s Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.
🔴 Iran named Esmail Ghaani as new Quds Force chief after Qassem Soleimani was killed by a US airstrike in Baghdad on Friday.
🔴 US President Donald Trump claimed that although Iran would not admit it, General Qassem Soleimani was both hated and feared within the country, and hence Iran’s people were not as saddened as the leaders wanted the outside world to believe. “While Iran will never be able to properly admit it, Soleimani was both hated and feared within the country. They are not nearly as saddened as the leaders will let the outside world believe. He should have been taken out many years ago!” Trump said in a tweet on Friday. He added, “General Qassem Soleimani has killed or badly wounded thousands of Americans over an extended period of time, and was plotting to kill many more… but got caught! He was, directly and indirectly, responsible for the death of millions of people, including the recent large number of protesters killed in Iran itself.”