Who was Qassim Soleimani? Top Iranian general killed in US airstrike in Baghdad

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Updated: January 3, 2020 11:46:23 AM

Pentagon said President Donald Trump ordered the killing of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani. The Department of Defence said Soleimani was actively involved in planning an attack on American diplomats and service members throughout the region.

Qassem SoleimaniQassem Soleimani attends a meeting in Tehran. (File Photo. AP).

Top Iranian general Qassim Soleimani was killed in an airstrike at Baghdad’s international airport on Friday. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards confirmed that the commander was killed by US forces. It said the Baghdad international airport was hit by missiles just after midnight Friday.

Pentagon in the morning said US President Donald Trump ordered the killing of Soleimani. The Department of Defence said Soleimani was actively involved in planning an attack on American diplomats and service members throughout the region. It added Soleimani and his Quds Force were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members.

After Soleimani was declared dead, Trump tweeted an image of the US flag without any explanation.

Besides Qassim, the airstrike also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. Abu Mahdi was the deputy commander of Iran-backed militias known as the Popular Mobilization Forces.

The killing took place after a pro-Iran mob this week laid siege to the US embassy following deadly American airstrikes on a hardline Hashed faction. The US had called the strikes in response to a rocket attack that had killed an American contractor working in the war-torn nation.

Soleimani was one of the most popular figures in Iran. He was seen as a deadly adversary by America and its partners. He headed the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force. It was mainly involved in chalking out strategies for external operations.

Soleimani had wielded his regional clout publicly since 2018 when it was revealed that he was directly involved in top-level talks over the formation of Iraq’s government. Soleimani has been in and out of Baghdad ever since, most recently last month as parties sought to form a new government.

Soleimani rose to fame suddenly when he was pushed forward as the public face of Iran’s intervention in the Syrian conflict from 2013. He appeared in battlefield photos, documentaries and even being featured in a music video and animated film. In recent years, he became an unlikely celebrity in the country with a huge following on Instagram.

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