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US: Pompeo claims Iraqis thankful for Soleimani's death

This strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans, says Pentagon, Iran vows 'bitter revenge'

Vakkas Dogantekin   | 03.01.2020
US: Pompeo claims Iraqis thankful for Soleimani's death

ANKARA

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed Iraqis were "thankful" for the airstrike that killed one of Iran's top generals in Baghdad. 

"Iraqis — Iraqis — dancing in the street for freedom; thankful that General [Qasem] Soleimani is no more," he tweeted early Friday, posting an unverified video of people carrying a huge Iraqi flag.

Pentagon confirmed late Thursday that it carried out a strike that killed Soleimani, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Quds Force.

The strike also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, vice president of the Hashd al-Shaabi group, or Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), local media reported.

"At the direction of the President [Donald Trump], the U.S. military has taken decisive defensive action to protect U.S. personnel abroad by killing Soleimani," the Pentagon said in a statement.

Soleimani was the long-time commander of the Quds Force, which has been a designated terror group in the U.S. since 2007. The group is estimated to have 20,000 members.

Shortly after the reports on the slain military leaders, Trump posted the U.S. flag on Twitter with no comment.

The Pentagon accused Soleimani of planning to carry out attacks on U.S. diplomats and service members in Iraq and the region, saying the slain leader was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members.

"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," said the statement, adding 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," said the statement.


Iranian reaction

Iran's supreme leader vowed to avenge the killing of Soleimani, commander of the elite Quds Force, in a U.S. drone strike in Iraq.

“A bitter revenge is awating the criminals,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a statement.

“His demise will not halt his work, his path will not be blocked," he added.

The supreme leader also declared national mourning for three days in the country.

Pompeo's Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif also slammed the U.S. move.

"The U.S.' 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," Zarif wrote on Twitter.

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