U.S. Strike Kills Powerful Iranian General

Streaking out of the early morning darkness on January 3 a U.S. drone strike killed the second-most powerful man in Iran — IRGC General Qasem Soleimani. Nine others died along with him, including Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, de facto leader of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces. The strike occurred as Soleimani was leaving Bagdad’s International Airport. Soleimani was widely considered the second most-powerful man in Iran, behind only supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. His death dramatically escalated tensions between the U.S. and Tehran. The Pentagon confirmed that U.S. President Donald Trump ordered the strike after a pro-Iranian mob besieged the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. The Pentagon also said that Soleimani was “actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that Soleimani was as dangerous as former Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Post-strike, Trump tweeted an image of a U.S. flag. Reported by i24 News. Read more…

More Reported by Fox News. Read more…

More Reported by The Guardian. Read more…

Further reported by i24 News. Read more…

(saying drone carried out precision strike and that thousands in Tehran took to the streets to protest against America). The Guardian has produced a visual guide to the strike, here.

The strike was so thorough that Soleimani’s remains had to be identified by a ring he wore. Reported by Fox News. Read more…

At the same time, the U.S. attempted to kill another top Iranian general, Abdul Reza Shahlai, also a member of the elite Quds Force (which Soleimani led) in Yemen. Had the strike succeeded, it would have dealt a double blow to the Quds Force, an elite branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, which manages Iran’s ties to proxy groups such as the Popular Mobilization Forces in Iraq and, of course, Hezbollah. Reported by USA Today. Read more…

Brigadier General Esmail Qaani was named as Soleimani’s replacement. Qaani had served as the slain general’s deputy commander since 1997. Reported by Fox News. Read more…

Worldwide reaction was mixed. Former national security advisor John Bolton praised the move, saying it was a “decisive blow against Iran’s malign Quds Forces activities worldwide.” Reported by Fox News. Read more…

Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, praised Trump’s action. Netanyahu said that “Israel has the right to self-defense. The US has the exact same right. Soleimani is responsible for the death of American citizens and many other innocent people.” Reported by i24 News. Read more…

Israel prepared for a possible Iranian response to the attack that killed Soleimani. Reported by i24 News. Read more…

On the other side of the ledger, France’s deputy foreign minister, Amélie de Montchalin said that “we have woken up to a more dangerous world.” Russia blasted the attack, calling it “an adventurist step that will increase tensions throughout the region.” Reported by France24. Read more…

Agnès Callamard, the U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial killing, said that Soleimani’s killing likely violated international law. Callamard tweeted that “outside the context of active hostilities, the use of drones or other means for targeted killing is almost never likely to be legal.” She said that individual involvement in past terrorist attacks is not enough to make targeting Soleimani lawful. Reported by Fox News. Read more…

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said Trump had “tossed a stick of dynamite into a tinderbox.” His fellow Democratic hopefuls Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders warned the attack could spark a disastrous new war in the Middle East. Reported by Fox News. Read more…