Iranian Quds Force commander Qassam Soleimani, considered to be the second most powerful person in Iran, has been killed in a US drone strike in Iraq. The leader of Hezbollah in Lebanon, Naem Qasm, was also reportedly killed in the strike, along with several of their deputies.
Iran has confirmed that the strike did, indeed, kill Soleimani. The Pentagon has released a statement saying that they carried out a “decisive defensive action to protect US personnel abroad” from Iran and Soleimani “at the direction of the President.” The Pentagon statement said that General Soleimani was “actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.”
Soleimani’s death marks a massive moment in US-Iran relations that will likely have repercussions throughout the world, and especially in the Middle East. Soleimani was very close with the Supreme Leader of Iran, who he reported directly to.
The Quds force and its proxies have been responsible for assassinations, terrorism, and unconventional warfare that Iran has been using in the Middle East for years, including against Israel. They are also responsible for attempted and successful attacks against the US, India, Argentina, and Germany.
President Trump and Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khameini, sparred on Twitter in recent days after Iran-backed forces attacked a US military base in Iraq. On Twitter, President Trump wrote that he considers Iran completely responsible for the attack. “They will pay a very BIG PRICE! This is not a warning, it is a Threat,” wrote Trump. Khameini responded to Trump, writing that Trump “can’t do anything.” Just one day after Khameini tweeted that at President Trump, his top military commander is dead.
Analysts say the killing of Soleimani is a bigger event than the killing of ISIS leader Baghdadi and possibly even greater than the killing of Osama bin Laden. Soleimani was one of the most powerful people in Iran, and the assassination of him is comparable to the killing of a head of state and not just a terror organization.
Many believe that Iran will respond with lethal force against US troops and perhaps unleash some of their terror proxies against US officials in various parts of the world. It is almost guaranteed that Iran will at the very least attack US troops currently stationed in Iraq and other areas in the Middle East. The US military has reportedly been placed on high alert. Some reports say that Israel is on alert as well, even though they are not known to have been involved in the assassination.
In a statement, Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) said “This is very simple: General Soleimani is dead because he was an evil bastard who murdered Americans. The President made the brave and right call, and Americans should be proud of our servicemembers who got the job done.”
No comment is expected from President Trump tonight.