President Donald Trump responded to U.S. military forces killing two top Iranian military officials on Thursday that were involved in terrorism by tweeting out an image of the American flag on his Twitter account.
U.S. forces killed Qasem Soleimani, leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) Quds Force — which is a designated terrorist organization — in an airstrike in Baghdad as he was traveling to Baghdad International Airport.
Also killed in the strike was top Iraqi paramilitary commander Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, who headed the Iranian-linked Popular Mobilization Forces.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2020
“The general was a figure of intense interest to people both in and out of Iran,” The New York Times reported. “It is not just that he was in charge of Iranian intelligence gathering and covert military operations, and regarded as one of its most cunning and autonomous military figures. He was also believed to be very close to the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — and seen as a potential future leader of Iran.”
The Pentagon released the following statement about the operation:
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.
General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region. General Soleimani and his Quds Force were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members and the wounding of thousands more. He had orchestrated attacks on coalition bases in Iraq over the last several months – including the attack on December 27th – culminating in the death and wounding of additional American and Iraqi personnel. General Soleimani also approved the attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad that took place this week.
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 strike comes after terrorists attacked the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad this week in response to U.S. forces killing dozens of terrorists from Kataeb Hezbollah.
The Department of Defense released the following statement on Sunday explaining why the U.S. military killed dozens of terrorists from Kataeb Hezbollah:
In response to repeated Kata’ib Hizbollah (KH) attacks on Iraqi bases that host Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) coalition forces, U.S. forces have conducted precision defensive strikes against five KH facilities in Iraq and Syria that will degrade KH’s ability to conduct future attacks against OIR coalition forces.
The five targets include three KH locations in Iraq and two in Syria. These locations included weapon storage facilities and command and control locations that KH uses to plan and execute attacks on OIR coalition forces.
Recent KH strikes included a 30-plus rocket attack on an Iraqi base near Kirkuk that resulted in the death of a U.S. citizen and injured four U.S. service members and two members of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF).
KH has a strong linkage with Iran’s Quds Force and has repeatedly received lethal aid and other support from Iran that it has used to attack OIR coalition forces.
The OIR coalition is in Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi government to ensure the lasting defeat of ISIS and provide advice and assistance to the ISF. The U.S. and its coalition partners fully respect Iraqi sovereignty, and support a strong and independent Iraq. The U.S., however, will not be deterred from exercising its right of self-defense.
It is important to note that KH attacks have also injured multiple members of the ISF. Secretary Esper and Prime Minister Mahdi have shared with each other their commitment to see these KH attacks on ISF and OIR forces cease once and for all.
Iran and their KH proxy forces must cease their attacks on U.S. and coalition forces, and respect Iraq’s sovereignty, to prevent additional defensive actions by U.S. forces.