By Toni C. Eastwood •
Published: 03 Jan 2020 • 9:01
Attack on Prison officers now being treated as a Terrorist Incident
The White House said Donald Trump ordered an air strike that killed powerful Iranian general Qassem Suleimani in Baghdad in the early hours of Friday, in a dramatic escalation of an already bloody struggle between Washington and Tehran for influence across the region.
Suleimani, who ran Iranian military operations in Iraq and Syria, was targeted while being driven from Baghdad airport by local allies from the Popular Mobilisation Units (PMU). The deputy head of the PMU, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandes, a close Suleimani associate, was also killed in the attack.
As the head of the Quds, or Jersualem Force of Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, Soleimani led all of its expeditionary forces and frequently shuttled between Iraq, Lebanon and Syria. US officials say the Guard under Soleimani taught Iraqi militants how to manufacture and use especially deadly roadside bombs against US troops after the invasion of Iraq.
“General Suleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region,” a Pentagon statement said. “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 US has deployed 750 airborne troops to Kuwait as a rapid reaction force available for use in Iraq, and officials has said up to 3,000 could be sent in the coming days. The defence secretary, Mark Esper, said on Thursday that more militia attacks were expected and the US reserved the right to take preemptive action to stop them.
The Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said on Twitter: “The US’ act of international terrorism, targeting & assassinating General Soleimani – THE most effective force fighting Daesh (ISIS), Al Nusrah, Al Qaeda et al – is extremely dangerous & a foolish escalation. The US bears responsibility for all consequences of its rogue adventurism.”
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