US President Donald Trump authorized a US military strike near Baghdad’s airport which resulted in the death of Iran’s Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani, the Pentagon confirmed in a statement on Thursday.
“At the direction of the president, the US military has taken decisive defensive action to protect US personnel abroad by killing Qasem Soleimani,” the Pentagon said in a statement.
The Pentagon said that the assassination was a response to “attacks on coalition bases in Iraq,” accusing Soleimani of being the mastermind behind a recent spate of missile attacks on joint US and Iraqi military installations. In particular, the Pentagon blamed Soleimani for orchestrating the December 27 rocket strike at a US base in Kirkuk that killed one American contractor.
Washington has pinned the blame for the attacks on its embassy in Baghdad squarely on Tehran, with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accusing “terrorists” and “Iranian proxies” of instigating the unrest.
Tehran, meanwhile, has vehemently denied the accusations that it was somehow complicit in the storming of US diplomatic quarters in the heavily fortified Green Zone, taking aim at Washington’s “audacity” to blame it for the outrage sparked by American airstrikes.