A US air strike in Baghdad has killed Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani. Credit: AP
CAIRO – 3 January 2020: The U.S. Pentagon said on Thursday, adding that Qasem Soleimani, head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' elite Quds Force and Hashed al-Shaabi militia in Iraq, was actively developing plans to attack Americans in Iraq and the Middle East.
"At the direction of the President, the U.S. military has taken decisive defensive action to protect U.S. personnel abroad by killing Qassem Soleimani," the Pentagon said in a statement.
According to a statement from the Iraqi military, rockets slammed into the Baghdad airport early Friday, targeting a Hashed paramilitary convoy.
Iraqi State television reported Soleimani's death in a breaking news alert, citing sources from the Hashed, which is dominated by Shiite-majority factions close to Tehran.
Security sources said the rockets left eight people dead, including "important figures."
"This strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans," it said, adding that the United States would continue to take necessary action to protect Americans and interests around the world.
The Pentagon said that Soleimani had "orchestrated" attacks on coalition bases in Iraq over the past few months and approved the "attacks" on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad this week.
One U.S. official said that Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis was also believed to have been killed in the strike, according to initial information, though he was not the primary target.
Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said that Soleimani's death "should be applauded by all who seek peace and justice."