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.
Iranians hold posters of General Qasem Soleimani during a demonstration in the capital Tehran on Friday. (AFP)
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 Guards statement read out on state television. The channel said the attack was carried out by US helicopters.
“Two vehicles were attacked with missiles by US forces” and all 10 passengers, including Soleimani, were “martyred”, Iran’s Ambassador to Iraq, Iraj Masjedi, told State television.
Brigadier General Esmail Qaani as the commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a statement posted on his official website.
Qaani was described by Khamenei as one of the “most decorated commanders” of the Guards during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war. “The orders for the (Quds) force remain exactly as they were during the leadership of martyr Soleimani,” said the supreme leader.
“I call on the members of the force to be present and cooperate with General Qaani and wish him divine prosperity, acceptance and guidance,” he added.