Iran warned of “severe revenge” and said arch-enemy the United States bore responsibility for the consequences after killing one of its top commanders, Qasem Soleimani, in a strike Friday outside Baghdad airport.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps confirmed the commander of its Quds Force foreign operations arm had been killed by US forces in Baghdad, with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif denouncing it as a “dangerous escalation”.
“The Revolutionary Guards announces that the glorious commander of Islam, haj Qasem Soleimani, following a life of servitude, was martyred in an attack by America on Baghdad airport this morning,” said a statement.
Iran’s ambassador to Iraq, Iraj Masjedi, said “two vehicles were attacked with missiles by US forces” and all 10 passengers, including Soleimani, were “martyred”.
The Quds Force said the dead consisted of five members of Iraq’s Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary network and five Guards – Brigadier General Hossein Pourjafari, Colonel Shahroud Mozafarinia, Major Hadi Taremi and Captain Vahid Zamanian.
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei threatened “severe revenge” for “the criminals who bloodied their foul hands with (Soleimani’s) blood”, and vowed that “God willing, his work and his path will not be stopped”.
He declared three days of mourning.
State television interrupted its regular programming to detail Soleimani’s achievements in the region, recalling the many times he had “foiled” US plans.