UPDATED (Jerusalem, Israel) — After months of being accused of not being willing to retaliate effectively against spiking Iranian aggression in the region, President Trump ordered the Pentagon to take out Iranian General Qassim Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite Quds Force, last night.
Iran’s top terrorist commander — a close associate of Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — was killed in a stunning airstrike at Baghdad International Airport.
“Also killed in the strike was a top Iraqi leader, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of the Popular Mobilization Forces, which is known as the PMF and is part of a larger umbrella group that includes a number of Shia militant groups supported by Iran,” reports the Military Times.
The Times cited a U.S. State Department report which “estimated that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was responsible for 17 percent of all deaths of U.S. personnel in Iraq from 2003 to 2011 — roughly 603 casualties.”
Other senior Iranian military officials were also killed in the attack, Fox News reports.
“The game has changed,” U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters, noting that violent acts by Iran-backed Shiite militias in Iraq — such as the New Year’s Eve attack on the American Embassy in Baghdad — will now be met with U.S. military force.
The Associated Press notes that the U.S. has some 5,200 troops in Iraq at the moment, and 700 more are on the way.
Mark Dubowitz, the CEO of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, based in Washington, notes, “The strike on Soleimani was more consequential than the killing of Osama bin Laden. The general’s experience, savvy and resources had made him Iran’s real foreign minister and close to irreplaceable for Tehran.”
“It’s one of the most consequential assassinations in the Middle East in years and will have violent and first order implications primarily for the US, Iran and Israel,” said Aaron David Miller, a former state department official at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Iran’s Khamenei vowed “harsh retaliation” for the attack. American military forces and diplomatic installations throughout the region are on full alert, as are Israeli forces, knowing the Jewish State could face severe new threats from Tehran.
The State Department is also Warning American citizens to leave Iraq immediately as Iranian-backed militias are likely to kidnap or kill Americans they find.
“In killing General Soleimani,” the New York Times reports, “Trump took an action that Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama had rejected, fearing it would lead to war between the United States and Iran.”
Just as President Obama deserved — and received — bipartisan credit for ordering American forces to take down Osama bin Laden, President Trump deserves credit from Americans in both major political parties for ordering this successful strike on Soleimani, as well as the recent take down of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
That’s the latest at this hour. Please follow me on Twitter for regular updates. And please be praying for calm and quiet in the region, and wisdom for US, Israeli and Arab leaders to know how best to contain and counter the Iranian threat.
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