Alwaght- The US regime has assassinated Major General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), early of Friday in the Iraqi capital Baghdad.
The IRGC announced in a statement that Major General Soleimani and al-Muhandis were martyred in the attack carried out by US helicopters.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei vowed harsh revenge, saying criminals who martyred Qassem Soleimani and his death, though bitter, would double the motivation of the resistance against the American and Israeli regimes.
“All enemies should know that the jihad of resistance will continue with a doubled motivation, and a definite victory awaits the fighters in the holy war,” Iran’s leader said in a statement carried by state television, in which Ayatollah Khamenei called for three days of national mourning.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said the assassination would make Iran more decisive in its resistance to the United States while Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said anti-US forces would exact revenge across the Muslim world.
The Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said on Twitter: “The US’ act of international terrorism, targeting & assassinating General Soleimani – THE most effective force fighting Daesh (ISIS), Al Nusrah, Al Qaeda et al – is extremely dangerous & a foolish escalation. The US bears responsibility for all consequences of its rogue adventurism.”
Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said on Friday the resistance movement would continue the path of Major-General Qassem Soleimani.
Sayyed Nasrallah said the US would not be able to achieve its goals with this “big crime” and just punishment was the responsibility of all fighters, Al Manar reported.
The Iraqi pro-government group also confirmed the incident.
"The deputy head of the PMF, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, and head of the Quds Force, Qasem Soleimani, were killed in a US strike that targeted their car on the Baghdad International Airport road," it said in a statement on Friday.
"The American and Israeli enemy is responsible for killing the mujahideen Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and Qassem Soleimani," said Ahmed al-Assadi, a PMF spokesman.
The group had earlier said that its public relations director Mohammed Reza al-Jaberi and four other members of the group were also killed after three Katyusha rockets struck a military base next to Baghdad International Airport in the Iraqi capital.
The media bureau of the voluntary forces described the early Friday morning attack as a ”cowardly US bombing”.
The rockets landed near the air cargo terminal, burning two vehicles and injuring several people, the Iraqi Interior Ministry's Security Media Cell said in an earlier statement.
The Pentagon confirmed in a statement that US President Donald Trump authorized the assassination operation.
“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 development came as the United States military said on Sunday it had carried out strikes in western Iraq against Kataib Hezbollah group, which is part of the pro-government Popular Mobilization Forces.
Iraqi security sources said at least 25 fighters were killed and at least 55 wounded following the air attacks.
Senior Iraqi officials also condemned the US attack against the Kataib Hezbollah's positions as a "violation of Iraqi sovereignty".
Caretaker Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi called the move a “dangerous escalation that threatens the security of Iraq and the region” in a statement on Sunday,
Abdul Mahdi said US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper had called him about half an hour before the US raids to tell him of the US intentions to hit Kataib Hezbollah's bases. He said he asked Esper to call off US plans.
Iraqi caretaker President Barham Salih also condemned the attack.
The US raids drew a wave of condemnation from officials and movements across the region, and triggered furious public protests outside the US embassy in Baghdad.
The Pentagon said the bombings were in response to attacks targeting American forces near the oil-rich northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk last week, which reportedly killed a US civilian contractor and injured four US service members, as well as two members of the Iraqi security forces. The US accused Kataib Hezbollah group of the attack.