Qassem Soleimani, head of the foreign branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Iran, was killed in an American air strike at Baghdad International Airport on Friday local time, which caused an escalation in animosities between Tehran and Washington. President Donald Trump authorized the air strike that killed Soleimani, a high-ranking Iranian general who is considered one of the most revered military leaders of the Islamic Republic: « On the instructions of the President, the United States military has taken decisive defensive steps to protect US personnel overseas by killing, « said the United States Department of Defense in a statement. In a tweet, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif described the strike that killed the general as an act of international terrorism: « The US act of international terrorism, targeting and murdering General Soleimani – the force most effective in fighting Daesh (ISIS), Al Nusrah, Al Qaeda is extremely dangerous and constitutes a senseless escalation, « he wrote on Twitter. « The United States is responsible for all the consequences of its dishonest adventurism, » he said.
Here is 5 facts you didn’t know about Qassem Soleimani,
1. Soleimani’s Convoy Was Hit at Baghdad’s Airport & His Death Was Confirmed by Iranian State Television, Reports Say
Al Jazeera reported that the incident appeared to be a targeted strike and according to sources the rockets destroyed two vehicles carrying « high profile guests ». “At the direction of the President, the U.S. military has taken decisive defensive action to protect U.S. personnel abroad by killing Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization,” the Department of Defense statement read. “General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.”
2. Soleimani Was Once Called the ‘Most Powerful Operative in the Middle East’
The New Yorker profile in 2013 quotes Soleimani a former C.I.A. officer as calling Suleimani “most powerful operative in the Middle East today.” According to The New Yorker, the Qods force was named after the Persian word for Jerusalem, which it wants to “liberate.”
3. Soleimani Was the Son of a Farmer Who Once Worked for a Municipal Water Authority
According to the Soufan article, was born in a mountain village in southeast Iran near the borders of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and his father, a farmer, once owed the government a lot of money after a botched land reform of the Shah.
U.S. Congressional reaction:
Chris Murphy, a U.S. Senator from Connecticut, wrote on Twitter, “Soleimani was an enemy of the United States. That’s not a question. The question is this – as reports suggest, did America just assassinate, without any congressional authorization, the second most powerful person in Iran, knowingly setting off a potential massive regional war?”
4. Soleimani Was Once Touted as a Presidential Candidate & Crafted Iran’s Strategy to Extend Its Power Throughout the Middle East
Major General Qassem Soleimani was recognised as one of the most powerful general in the Middle East. His unique strategy of blending militant and state power helped Iran project its power across the Middle East, from Lebanon and Syria to Iraq and Yemen.
An Iraq official described Soleimani’s understated charisma to The New Yorker: “He is so short, but he has this presence. There will be ten people in a room, and when Suleimani walks in he doesn’t come and sit with you. He sits over there on the other side of room, by himself, in a very quiet way. Doesn’t speak, doesn’t comment, just sits and listens. And so of course everyone is thinking only about him.”
5. There Were Previous Reports of Qasem Solemani’s Death
According to the Associated Press, Soleimani “had been rumored dead several times.” One time the news agency had reported that Soleimani was killed in plane crash in 2006 among other officials. Another time was a 2012 Damascus bombing. In 2015, there were also rumors he had been killed.