[guest post by JVW]
UPDATE: The Pentagon has confirmed that it was a U.S. attack and that Gen. Soleimani is dead. I am changing the title of this post accordingly, from “U.S. Attacks Possibly Kill. . . ” to “U.S. Attacks Kill Iranian. . . .”
—- Original Post —-
At least three rockets were fired at Baghdad International Airport Friday killing at least seven people, including Iranian Gen. Qassim Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite Quds Force, according to multiple reports early Friday.
Soleimani is the military mastermind whom Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had deemed equally as dangerous as Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was killed in a strike by U.S.-led forces in October.
Soleimani was the long-running leader of the elite intelligence wing called Quds Force – which itself has been a designated terror group since 2007, and is estimated to be 20,000 strong. Considered one of the most powerful men in Iran, he was routinely referred to as the “shadow commander” or “spymaster.”
“Soleimani is our leader” had been photographed spray-painted on windows by Iran-backed militiamen at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
The strike also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iran-backed militias known as the Popular Mobilization Forces, three Iraqi officials told The Associated Press. Iraqi TV reported the deaths as well.
As usual with these events in that part of the world, there is all sorts of conflicting information. Iraqi security initially reported that the projectiles were Katyusha rockets, a Soviet-era model that is a favorite of Hezbollah, and that no deaths had resulted from the attack. At the same time, however, local media reported seeing U.S. attack helicopters flying near the Baghdad Airport at the time of the strike. And now acknowledgement of the deaths is apparently leaking out.
So maybe we’ll have a wartime President seeking reelection after all.