Who was Qassem Soleimani, head of the Iranian elite Quds Force killed in US strike?
Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani, head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, along with deputy commander of Iraq’s Iranian-backed militia force, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, an adviser to Soleimani, were killed in an airstrike carried out by the US helicopters on Friday morning in Baghdad, the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) stated.
The Popular Mobilization Forces confirmed via its Twitter account on Friday, 3 January, that “deputy commander of the PMF, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, and head of the elite Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani were martyred in a US airstrike targeted their vehicle on Baghdad airport road.”
The PMF said earlier, on Friday, that at least 8 were killed in three rockets attack on the Baghdad International Airport.
The Clean Brotherhood, the PMF-affiliated Facebook news page, said that the airstrike targeted two cars on their way out of Baghdad International Airport, pointing out that PMF public relations leader, Mohammed Ridha Jabri was reportedly killed as well.
The US Department of Defense (Pentagon) said that US President Donald Trump ordered the killing of Soleimani because he “was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.”
Soleimani’s killing came after the New Year’s Eve attack by PMF on the US Embassy in Baghdad, which followed US airstrikes waged on Sunday that killed 25 fighters of the Iran-backed militia in Iraq, the Kataeb Hezbollah. The US military said the strikes were in retaliation for last week’s killing of an American contractor in a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base that the US blamed on the militia.
The US Defense Secretary, Mark Esper, warned on Thursday, 2 January, that he expects those groups are planning further attacks against US bases in Iraq.
“There are some indications out there that they may be planning additional attacks, that is nothing new right, we’ve seen this for two or three months now,” Esper pointed out, “if that happens then we will act and, by the way, if we get word of attacks or some type indication, we will take preemptive action as well to protect American forces to protect American lives.”
Who was Qassem Soleiman?
Qassem Soleimani, was considered to be the main figure leading Iran’s operations abroad.
He was well-known as the architect of the operations in the Middle East that support the Syrian regime forces in Syria, and the Iraqi PMF in Iraq.
Soleimani was born in Qom in 1957 and grew up in the village of Rapour, in the Kerman Province, southeastern Iran.
He was a construction worker and continued his education until high school then worked in Kerman city municipality until the Iranian Islamic revolution broke out in 1979.
Following the Iranian revolution, Soleimani joined the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps in early 1980 which was founded by the order of the Iranian spiritual leader Ayatollah Khomeini in November 1979.
Soleimani, also played a role in Iran-backed operations in al-Qusayr, in the western countryside of Homs, which was controlled by Iran-backed militias, including the Lebanese militias of Hezbollah.
Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, started working with Iran in 2003 when he was in the Iraqi Islamic Dawa Party and then he took over the leadership of the “Badr Corps,” the Iran-officered military wing of the Iran-based Shia Islamic party, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, formed in 1982.
After the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq, al-Muhandis obtained Iranian citizenship and took up the position of Soleimani’s advisor.
In 2007, Iran was assigned the task of establishing the Hezbollah Brigades in Iraq, which had had a major role in the conflict of Syria alongside Assad’s forces since 2013.
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